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Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good? The impact of a soda tax on prices and consumption

Author

Listed:
  • João Pereira dos Santos

    (Nova SBE)

  • Judite Gonçalves

    (Nova SBE)

Abstract

Increasing obesity-related problems and rising healthcare expenditures have led governments in developed countries to consider the introduction of soda taxes. We study a recent such tax, implemented in Portugal, using extremely detailed panel data from one of the two largest retailers in the country, covering the period between February 2015 and January 2018. We take advantage of the tax breakdown by sugar levels to examine how soda prices and quantities purchased reacted. For identification, we rely on di erence-in-differences models with various vectors of fixed effects, comparing each group of products to water. For drinks with more than 80 grams of sugar per liter, results indicate almost full price pass-through to the consumer. For drinks with less than 80 grams of sugar per liter, price pass-through surpassed 100%. Regarding consumption, our findings suggest stockpiling behavior in the quarter when the tax was approved and before it was actually implemented. In the implementation period, there are no significant changes in quantities purchased for most beverages vis-a-vis water, with the exception of soda drinks with comparatively low levels of sugar. This suggests that benefits of the soda tax in terms of reducing sugar intake are mainly due to reformulation, as producers reduced the sugar content of some drinks to fall below the 80 grams per liter threshold.

Suggested Citation

  • João Pereira dos Santos & Judite Gonçalves, 2019. "Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good? The impact of a soda tax on prices and consumption," GEE Papers 00124, Gabinete de Estratégia e Estudos, Ministério da Economia, revised Aug 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:mde:wpaper:00124
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    Cited by:

    1. Le Bodo, Yann & Etilé, Fabrice & Julia, Chantal & Friant-Perrot, Marine & Breton, Eric & Lecocq, Sébastien & Boizot-Szantai, Christine & Bergeran, Céline & Jabot, Françoise, 2022. "Public health lessons from the French 2012 soda tax and insights on the modifications enacted in 2018," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 126(7), pages 585-591.
    2. Pierre Dubois & Rachel Griffith & Martin O'Connell, 2020. "How Well Targeted Are Soda Taxes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(11), pages 3661-3704, November.
    3. Dickson, Alex & Gehrsitz, Markus & Kemp, Jonathan, 2021. "Does a Spoonful of Sugar Levy Help the Calories Go Down? An Analysis of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy," IZA Discussion Papers 14528, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Goncalves, Judite & Merenda, Roxanne & dos Santos, João Pereira, 2022. "Not so sweet: The impact of the Portuguese soda tax on producers," Ruhr Economic Papers 938, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    5. Andrew Fearne & Natalia Borzino & Beatrix De La Iglesia & Peter Moffatt & Margaret Robbins, 2022. "Using supermarket loyalty card data to measure the differential impact of the UK soft drink sugar tax on buyer behaviour," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(2), pages 321-337, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    soda tax; sugar-sweetened beverages tax; pass-through; policy evaluation; Portugal;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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