Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

CSDE Affiliates Knox and Jones-Smith Awarded Grant from the Royalty Research Fund!

Posted: 9/2/2022 (CSDE in the News)

CSDE Affiliates Mellisa Knox and Jessica Jones-Smith have recently been awarded a research grant from the UW RRF as co-PIs. Taxes on sweetened beverages have become an important policy response to growing obesity rates and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. and other nations. Since 2015, eight U.S. cities have implemented these taxes, but so far direct evidence of their impacts on household purchasing behavior is scarce. Of particular interest to many researchers and policy makers is the response of low-income consumers to these taxes, both because they have higher sweetened beverage consumption on average and because of concerns that sweetened beverage taxes are regressive. This project will investigate the income-stratified household response to sweetened beverage taxes using a data set containing the purchasing behavior of approximately 500 households in the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, and Philadelphia, all of which have recently introduced beverage taxes. Knox and Jones-Smith’s analysis will combine this household-level data with proprietary data on beverage and retailer characteristics specific to the context of these taxes. Whereas previous literature in this area has used household responses to general price fluctuations to simulate household responses to sweetened beverage taxes, this novel data set will enable the PIs to detect household responses to these taxes directly. Direct measurement of the consumer response to these taxes is important if, as has been shown with other consumption taxes, consumers respond differently to them than to idiosyncratic price fluctuations. By improving understanding of household behavior around sweetened beverage taxes, Knox and Jones-Smith’s findings have the potential to improve sweetened beverage tax policy and promote population health.