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

  • David Madden

    (University College Dublin)

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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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/WP13_03.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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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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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 25 Mar 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201303
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Web page: http://www.ucd.ie/economics

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  1. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Garry Barrett & Thomas Crossley & Christopher Worswick, 1999. "Consumption and Income Inequality in Australia," CEPR Discussion Papers 404, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  3. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Makdissi, Paul & Wodon, Quentin, 2002. "Socially-Efficient Tax Reforms," Cahiers de recherche 0201, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  4. 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.
  5. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1994. "Tax reform and welfare measurement: do we need demand system estimation?," IFS Working Papers W94/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Yitzhaki, Shlomo & Slemrod, Joel, 1991. "Welfare Dominance: An Application to Commodity Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 480-96, June.
  7. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  8. Madden, D., 1999. "Relative or Absolute Poverty Lines: A New Approach," Papers 99/9, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  9. Madden, D. & Smith, F., 2000. "Poverty in Ireland, 1987-1994: a Stochastic Dominance Approach," Papers 00/13, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  10. 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.
  11. Anna Sanz De Galdeano, 2005. "The Obesity Epidemic in Europe," CSEF Working Papers 143, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Mayshar, Joram & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1995. "Dalton-Improving Indirect Tax Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 793-807, September.
  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. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521296762 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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