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The Impact of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax on Prices and Product Availability

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  • John Cawley
  • David Frisvold
  • Anna Hill
  • David Jones

Abstract

In recent years, numerous cities in the U.S. have enacted taxes on beverages to promote health and raise revenue. This paper examines the impact of Philadelphia’s beverage tax, enacted in 2017, on the prices and availability of taxed beverages and untaxed beverages that may be substitutes for consumers. Using original data we collected in late 2016 and again one year later, we estimate a difference-in-differences regression of the change over time in beverage prices and product availability in stores in Philadelphia relative to stores in nearby counties. We find that, on average, distributors and retailers fully pass the tax through to consumers, but there is heterogeneity in the pass-through rate among stores. Pass-through is greater among stores in higher-poverty neighborhoods, stores located farther from untaxed stores outside Philadelphia, stores that are independent as opposed to part of national chains, and for individual servings than for larger sizes. We also find a reduction in the availability of taxed beverages and an increase in the availability of untaxed beverages, particularly bottled water, in Philadelphia stores.

Suggested Citation

  • John Cawley & David Frisvold & Anna Hill & David Jones, 2018. "The Impact of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax on Prices and Product Availability," NBER Working Papers 24990, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24990
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jones-Smith, Jessica C. & Pinero Walkinshaw, Lina & Oddo, Vanessa M. & Knox, Melissa & Neuhouser, Marian L. & Hurvitz, Philip M. & Saelens, Brian E. & Chan, Nadine, 2020. "Impact of a sweetened beverage tax on beverage prices in Seattle, WA," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C).
    2. Schmacker, Renke & Smed, Sinne, 2020. "Do prices and purchases respond similarly to soft drink tax increases and cuts?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C).
    3. Cawley, John & Frisvold, David & Hill, Anna & Jones, David, 2019. "The impact of the Philadelphia beverage tax on purchases and consumption by adults and children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    4. 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.
    5. Powell, Lisa M. & Leider, Julien, 2020. "The impact of Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Tax on beverage prices and volume sold," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C).
    6. Neuhofer, Zachary & McFadden, Brandon R. & Rihn, Alicia & Wei, Xuan & Khachatryan, Hayk & House, Lisa, 2020. "Can the updated nutrition facts label decrease sugar-sweetened beverage consumption?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C).
    7. Cawley, John & Frisvold, David & Hill, Anna & Jones, David, 2020. "Oakland’s sugar-sweetened beverage tax: Impacts on prices, purchases and consumption by adults and children," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C).
    8. John Cawley & David Frisvold & David Jones, 2020. "The impact of sugar‐sweetened beverage taxes on purchases: Evidence from four city‐level taxes in the United States," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(10), pages 1289-1306, October.
    9. Stacey, Nicholas & Mudara, Caroline & Ng, Shu Wen & van Walbeek, Corné & Hofman, Karen & Edoka, Ijeoma, 2019. "Sugar-based beverage taxes and beverage prices: Evidence from South Africa's Health Promotion Levy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 238(C), pages 1-1.
    10. Powell, Lisa M. & Leider, Julien & Léger, Pierre Thomas, 2020. "The impact of the Cook County, IL, Sweetened Beverage Tax on beverage prices," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C).
    11. Stacey, Nicholas & Edoka, Ijeoma & Hofman, Karen & Swart, Elizabeth C & Popkin, Barry & Ng, Shu Wen, 2021. "Changes in beverage purchases following the announcement and implementation of South Africa's Health Promotion Levy: an observational study," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 109878, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Marinello, Samantha & Leider, Julien & Pugach, Oksana & Powell, Lisa M., 2021. "The impact of the Philadelphia beverage tax on employment: A synthetic control analysis," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C).
    13. Pierre Thomas Léger & Lisa M. Powell, 2021. "The impact of the Oakland SSB tax on prices and volume sold: A study of intended and unintended consequences," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(8), pages 1745-1771, August.
    14. Brandon J. Restrepo & Jonathan H. Cantor, 2020. "The effects of soda taxes on adolescent sugar intake and blood sugar," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(11), pages 1422-1434, November.
    15. Rachel Griffith & Martin O'Connell & Kate Smith & Rebekah Stroud, 2020. "What's on the Menu? Policies to Reduce Young People's Sugar Consumption," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 41(1), pages 165-197, March.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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