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Is there a "heat or eat" trade-off in the UK?


  • Tim Beatty

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Minnesota)

  • Laura Blow

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Surrey)

  • Thomas Crossley

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies, University of Essex)


In this research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, we merge detailed household level expenditure data from older households with historical local weather information. We then test for a heat or eat trade off: do households cut back on food spending to finance the additional cost of keeping warm during cold shocks? We find evidence that the poorest of older households are unable to smooth spending over the worst temperature shocks. Statistically significant reductions in food spending are observed in response to temperatures two or more standard deviations colder than expected (which occur about one winter month in forty) and reductions in food expenditure are considerably larger in poorer households.

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Beatty & Laura Blow & Thomas Crossley, 2011. "Is there a "heat or eat" trade-off in the UK?," IFS Working Papers W11/09, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:11/09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2003. "Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 9760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:7:1149-1154_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dora Gicheva & Justine Hastings & Sofia Villas-Boas, 2010. "Investigating Income Effects in Scanner Data: Do Gasoline Prices Affect Grocery Purchases?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 480-484, May.
    4. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2009. "Shocks, Stocks, and Socks: Smoothing Consumption Over a Temporary Income Loss," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1169-1192, December.
    5. Paxson, Christina H, 1992. "Using Weather Variability to Estimate the Response of Savings to Transitory Income in Thailand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 15-33, March.
    6. Bhattacharya, J. & DeLeire, T. & Haider, S. & Currie, J., 2003. "Heat or Eat? Cold-Weather Shocks and Nutrition in Poor American Families," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 93(7), pages 1149-1154.
    7. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley, 2003. "Shocks, Stocks and Socks," Department of Economics Working Papers 2003-07, McMaster University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Friedman, Chanoch & Becker, Nir & Erell, Evyatar, 2014. "Energy retrofit of residential building envelopes in Israel: A cost-benefit analysis," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 183-193.
    2. Beatty, Timothy K.M. & Tuttle, Charlotte, 2012. "The Effect of Energy Price Shocks on Household Food Security," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124791, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Beatty, Timothy K.M. & Blow, Laura & Crossley, Thomas F. & O'Dea, Cormac, 2014. "Cash by any other name? Evidence on labeling from the UK Winter Fuel Payment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 86-96.
    4. repec:eee:trapol:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:93-105 is not listed on IDEAS

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