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Sin taxes in differentiated product oligopoly: an application to the butter and margarine market


  • Rachel Griffith

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and IFS and Manchester)

  • Lars Nesheim

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and cemmap and UCL)

  • Martin O'Connell

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies)


There is policy interest in using tax to change food purchasing behaviour. The literature has not accounted for the oligopolistic structure of the industry. In oligopoly the impact of taxes depend on preferences, and how firms pass tax onto prices. We consider a tax on saturated fat. Using transaction level data we find that the form of tax and firms' strategic behaviour are important determinants of the impact. Our results suggest that an excise tax is more efficient than an ad valorem tax at reducing saturated fat purchases and an ad valorem tax is more efficient at raising revenue.

Suggested Citation

  • Rachel Griffith & Lars Nesheim & Martin O'Connell, 2010. "Sin taxes in differentiated product oligopoly: an application to the butter and margarine market," CeMMAP working papers CWP37/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:37/10

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    Cited by:

    1. Crawford, Gregory S., 2012. "Endogenous product choice: A progress report," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 315-320.
    2. Allais, Olivier & Etilé, Fabrice & Lecocq, Sébastien, 2015. "Mandatory labels, taxes and market forces: An empirical evaluation of fat policies," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 27-44.
    3. Harding, Matthew & Lovenheim, Michael, 2017. "The effect of prices on nutrition: Comparing the impact of product- and nutrient-specific taxes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 53-71.
    4. Griffith, Rachel & Krol, Michal & Smith, Kate, 2015. "Store Brands and the Role of Advertising," CEPR Discussion Papers 10877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Finkelstein, Eric A. & Zhen, Chen & Bilger, Marcel & Nonnemaker, James & Farooqui, Assad M. & Todd, Jessica E., 2013. "Implications of a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax when substitutions to non-beverage items are considered," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 219-239.

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