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The Impact of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax on Purchases and Consumption by Adults and Children

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

Abstract

In recent years, numerous U.S. cities have enacted taxes on sweetened beverages, but there is relatively little evidence about the effects of these taxes on purchases and consumption. In this paper, we examine the effects of the beverage tax of 1.5 cents per ounce that was implemented in Philadelphia starting January 1, 2017. We surveyed individuals in Philadelphia and nearby comparison communities before the tax and nearly one year after implementation of the tax about their purchases and consumption of beverages. We find that purchases of taxed beverages fell by 8.9 ounces per shopping trip in Philadelphia stores relative to comparison stores outside of the city and that Philadelphia residents increased purchases of taxed beverages outside of the city. The tax reduced adults’ frequency of regular soda consumption by 10.4 times per month, and there is some evidence of a slight reduction in adults’ overall sugar consumption from sweetened beverages, with larger reductions for African-American adults. The tax did not have a substantial effect on the frequency of adults’ consumption of other beverages. We generally do not find detectable effects of the tax on children’s consumption of beverages, although we find a substantial reduction in consumption of added sugars from sweetened beverages among children who had high pre-tax consumption levels.

Suggested Citation

  • John Cawley & David Frisvold & Anna Hill & David Jones, 2018. "The Impact of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax on Purchases and Consumption by Adults and Children," NBER Working Papers 25052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25052
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    1. 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.
    2. John Cawley & David Frisvold & Anna Hill & David Jones, 2020. "The Impact of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax on Prices and Product Availability," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(3), pages 605-628, June.
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    8. John Cawley & Chelsea Crain & David Frisvold & David Jones, 2018. "The Pass-Through of the Largest Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: The Case of Boulder, Colorado," NBER Working Papers 25050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jason M. Fletcher & David E. Frisvold & Nathan Tefft, 2015. "Non‐Linear Effects of Soda Taxes on Consumption and Weight Outcomes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(5), pages 566-582, May.
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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. Schmacker, Renke & Smed, Sinne, 2020. "Sin Taxes and Self-Control," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 250, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    4. Xiang, Di & Zhan, Lue & Bordignon, Massimo, 2020. "A reconsideration of the sugar sweetened beverage tax in a household production model," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C).
    5. Cornelsen, Laura & Quaife, Matthew & Lagarde, Mylene & Smith, Richard D., 2020. "Framing and signalling effects of taxes on sugary drinks: a discrete choice experiment among households in Great Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 105777, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Selina Gangl, 2021. "Do soda taxes affect the consumption and health of school-aged children? Evidence from France and Hungary," Papers 2111.14521, arXiv.org.
    7. 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).
    8. Julio C. Arteaga & Daniel Flores & Edgar Luna, 2021. "The effect of a soft drink tax in Mexico: evidence from time series industry data," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 65(2), pages 349-366, April.
    9. John Cawley & David Frisvold & Anna Hill & David Jones, 2020. "The Impact of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax on Prices and Product Availability," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(3), pages 605-628, June.
    10. 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).
    11. Cuadrado, Cristóbal & Dunstan, Jocelyn & Silva-Illanes, Nicolas & Mirelman, Andrew J. & Nakamura, Ryota & Suhrcke, Marc, 2020. "Effects of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax on prices and affordability of soft drinks in Chile: A time series analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 245(C).
    12. John Cawley & David Frisvold & David Jones & Chelsea Lensing, 2021. "The Pass‐Through of a Tax on Sugar‐Sweetened Beverages in Boulder, Colorado," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(3), pages 987-1005, May.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Laura Cornelsen & Matthew Quaife & Mylene Lagarde & Richard D. Smith, 2020. "Framing and signalling effects of taxes on sugary drinks: A discrete choice experiment among households in Great Britain," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(10), pages 1132-1147, October.
    16. 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).
    17. 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.
    18. Aguilar, Arturo & Gutierrez, Emilio & Seira, Enrique, 2021. "The effectiveness of sin food taxes: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    19. Gonçalves, Judite & Pereira dos Santos, João, 2020. "Brown sugar, how come you taste so good? The impact of a soda tax on prices and consumption," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 264(C).
    20. Stephanie von Hinke, 2021. "Education, dietary intakes and exercise," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 21/748, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    21. 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.
    22. de Walque, Damien, 2020. "The use of financial incentives to prevent unhealthy behaviors: A review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 261(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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