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The Poverty Effects of a “Fat-Tax” in Ireland

  • David (David Patrick) Madden

To combat growing levels of obesity, health related taxes have been suggested with taxes on foods high in fat or sugar. Such taxes have been criticised on the basis of their regressivity and potentially adverse impact upon poverty. This paper analyses the effect of such taxes on a range of poverty measures and also examines the effect of a revenue-neutral tax subsidy mix with a tax on unhealthy food combined with a subsidy on more healthy food. Using Irish expenditure data, the results indicate that taxes on high fat/sugar goods on their own will be regressive but that a tax-subsidy combination can be broadly neutral with respect to poverty.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201303.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201303
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  1. Madden, David, 1996. "Marginal Tax Reform and the Specification of Consumer Demand Systems," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 556-67, October.
  2. Mayshar, Joram & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1995. "Dalton-Improving Indirect Tax Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 793-807, September.
  3. Madden, D., 1999. "Relative or Absolute Poverty Lines: A New Approach," Papers 99/9, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  4. Yitzhaki, Shlomo & Thirsk, Wayne, 1990. "Welfare dominance and the design of excise taxation in the Cote d'ivoire," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-18, July.
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  8. Blundell, Richard & Pashardes, Panos & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "What Do We Learn About Consumer Demand Patterns from Micro Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 570-97, June.
  9. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  10. Ahmad, Ehtisham & Stern, Nicholas, 1984. "The theory of reform and indian indirect taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 259-298, December.
  11. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  12. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan, 1998. "Kernel Regression in Empirical Microeconomics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 62-87.
  13. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Makdissi, Paul & Wodon, Quentin, 2002. "Socially-Efficient Tax Reforms," Cahiers de recherche 0201, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  14. David Madden & Fiona Smith, 2000. "Poverty in Ireland, 1987-1994 - A Stochastic Dominance Approach," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 31(3), pages 187-214.
  15. Smed, Sinne & Jensen, Jorgen D. & Denver, Sigrid, 2007. "Socio-economic characteristics and the effect of taxation as a health policy instrument," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(5-6), pages 624-639.
  16. Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2005. "The Obesity Epidemic in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 1814, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Makdissi, Paul & Wodon, Quentin, 2002. "Consumption dominance curves: testing for the impact of indirect tax reforms on poverty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 227-235, April.
  18. Koen Decancq & Tim Goedemé & Karel Van den Bosch & Josefine Vanhille, 2013. "The Evolution of Poverty in the European Union: Concepts, Measurement and Data," ImPRovE Working Papers 13/01, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  19. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Quadratic Engel Curves And Consumer Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 527-539, November.
  20. Besley, Timothy J & Kanbur, S M Ravi, 1988. "Food Subsidies and Poverty Alleviation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(392), pages 701-19, September.
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