Food consumption, Advertising and Dynamics

Lead Research Organisation: Institute for Fiscal Studies
Department Name: IFS Research Team

Abstract

The aim of the proposed research is to better understand individual behaviour in food markets, and to provide new evidence on the potential impacts of proposed policy interventions that seek to improve nutritional outcomes. Our focus will be on understanding what form preferences take and what factors might influence preference formation. We will extend economic models of food choice to reflect potential non-standard features of behaviour such as habits and temptation and we will also study the effects on decision making of advertising. To study habit formation, we will use food purchasing information on migrants and on children and their parents. We will study how we can incorporate behavioural biases such as temptation and self-control into the standard economic models of demand and use information on purchases people make for immediate and future consumption to estimate these models. We will also allow for potentially persuasive effects of advertising on consumers' choices. Finally, we will use these new models of demand to carry out ex ante policy evaluation of reforms that change relative prices or costs to study how the existence of habits formation or behavioural biases effect the potential impact of policy reform. When considering such policy counterfactuals we will analyse firm behaviour, accounting for dynamic strategic interactions between firms, in order to assess the long run impact on both demand and supply of government policy (such as taxes).

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of this work will include the researchers involved in the project and at the host institutions, the broader academic community, policymakers (specifically, in the UK Department of Health), the media and the general public.

The researchers involved in the project will benefit by developing their skills and research capacity. In particular, the junior researcher, Kate Smith, who is involved in the project will benefit through the opportunity to work with senior academics at both institutes, to develop new econometric and computational skills and to extend her research networks. She will also benefit by engaging in dissemination activities to maximise the impact of our research outside of the academic community.

The academic community more broadly will benefit through the development of new methods and computational techniques, as detailed in the Case for Support. Policymakers will directly benefit from the research findings. This project will provide them with better evaluation of a number of proposed policy interventions. The methods and tools developed under these projects will help us to analyse a range of policies. For example, there is broad interest in the long run impact of taxes on food consumption - is the long run impact different from the short run impact because it takes time for consumers to adjust habits? There is also interest in how pricing and advertising by firms in the food market would respond to the introduction of taxes. Our research will help us to understand what impact these interventions will have and how the impact varies across different types of households and individuals. What type of person responds to these initiates - are children or poorer households getting the benefits, or is the main impact on educated households?

The media will find the results of the policy evaluations of interest, and we expect that they will receive widespread coverage. The issues around food and nutrition and how policy should react to the rising problems associated with diet related disease have received widespread coverage in the media, and we expect that they will continue to do so. The general public will benefit from the research in that it will lead to a better understanding of an issue of major current public concern. IFS has an excellent record of effective communication with both academic and non-academic users. As well as publishing in top academic journals, we will publish non-technical summaries and reports of all relevant research findings. These will be made freely available via our website and advertised through press releases and our Twitter account, which are regularly accessed by the general public, and in particular by A-level and undergraduate students. We will present research findings at academic and policy conferences, and we will participate in policy discussions of various types. We will liaise with contacts at the Department of Health and aim to involve them in the early stages of our research, using their expertise to help set our specific research agenda. We will meet with politicians, policymakers, charities and other bodies to discuss our ongoing research findings. Each year of this project we will hold a workshop at the IFS, which will aim to disseminate findings and discuss the research. We will involve policymakers and academics in these workshops.
 
Description The key findings from this grant are ongoing and we will report on them at the end of the grant.
Exploitation Route The key findings from this grant are ongoing and we will report on them at the end of the grant.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/research_areas/12
 
Description The impacts from this grant are ongoing and we will report on them at the end of the grant.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Gave evidence to the Health Select Committee on childhood obesity (Martin O'Connell)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmhealth/882/88210.htm
 
Description Meeting with Department of Health and Public Health England teams to discuss recent reports produced as part of the Obesity Policy Research Unit (Rebekah Stroud and Rachel Griffith)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Meeting with Diageo to discuss alcohol policy (Martin O'Connell)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Meeting with HM Treasury employee Charles Smart. (Rebekah Stroud, Kate Smith)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description A cross disciplinary discussion of public policy and food choices 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on A cross disciplinary discussion of public policy and food choices, given at University of Pennsylvania
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description A new year, a new you? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article on VoxEU
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/10350
 
Description A new year, a new you? Temptation and self-control in food purchases 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation on 'A new year, a new you? Temptation and self-control in food purchases' given at the Association of South European Theorists Annual Conference in Algiers and a presentation given in honour of Leonid Hurwicz
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Article - Fixing the UK's alcohol taxes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Blog post for Institute of Alcohol Studies on Fixing the UK's alcohol taxes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/9053
 
Description Article - Gluttony and Sloth 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact VoxEU article on Gluttony and Sloth
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8362
 
Description Banning junk food ads 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Video by VoxEU on Banning junk food ads
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://voxeu.org/content/banning-junk-food-adverts
 
Description Blog - Food choices and¬†public¬†policy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Blog on British Academy website on Food Choice and Public Policy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/10251
 
Description Bounding Demand Elasticities with Unobserved Choice Set Heterogeneity 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on Bounding Demand Elasticities with Unobserved Choice Set Heterogeneity, given at the University of Oslo, Norway and the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Corrective Tax design presentation at Cesifo applied microeconomics conference in Munich 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Martin O'Connell gave a talk on corrective tax design in imperfectly competitive markets
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Corrective taxes and consumer heterogeneity in the alcohol market 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on Corrective taxes and consumer heterogeneity in the alcohol market given at CREST, Paris
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Design of optimal corrective taxes in the alcohol market 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Video by VoxEU on Design of optimal corrective taxes in the alcohol market
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8868
 
Description Design of optimal corrective taxes in the alcohol market 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on 'Design of optimal corrective taxes in the alcohol market' given at LAGV conference, RES Annual Conference, University of Vienna, University of Sheffield, University of Oxford, demand workshop in Boston, Econometric Society Winter Meetings and IFS
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/9093
 
Description Design of optimal corrective taxes in the alcohol market 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on Design of optimal corrective taxes in the alcohol market given at University of Sheffield
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Designing Alcohol Taxes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on Designing Alcohol Taxes given at the Home Office
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Do sin taxes work? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation on 'Do sin taxes work?' given as part of the Richard Musgrave visiting professorship and at the RES PhD Symposium
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Engaging with the childhood obesity strategy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation given at the Institute for Fiscal Studies' away day, and at the UCL Obesity Policy Research Unit.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Excise duties 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This presentation was given at the launch of the Green Budget 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Getting a healthy start? Nudge versus economic incentives  
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact seminar
Presented at : Manchester
Presented at : Oxford
Presented at : York
Presented at : Paris
Presented at : Edinburgh
Presented at : Toulouse
Presented at : Bristol
Presented at : Newcastle
Presented at : Duisburg-Essen
Presented at : Essen
Presented at : Dublin
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description How much advertising for food and drink high in fat, salt or sugar do children see? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Video Clip on the IFS website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description How well targeted are soda taxes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on 'How well targeted are soda taxes', given at Policy Discussion in Washington DC, RES Conference in Brighton, Health Economics Workshop, Imperial College London, University of Bristol, National Tax Association annual conference in Philadelphia, a conference in honour of Richard Blundell's Nemmers Prize, Queen Mary University, the RES Annual Conference, University of Venice and CREST
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Individual preference heterogeneity, targeting and welfare effects of soda taxes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on Individual preference heterogeneity, targeting and welfare effects of soda taxes, given at the University of Lisbon, a seminar at the University of Toulouse and University of Pennsylvania
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Kate Smith BBC expert article - Will paying more for alcohol and fizzy drinks make us healthier? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact BBC expert article, focused on the following: An anti-obesity drive is about to see a tax introduced on sugary drinks across the UK, while Scotland is set to impose a minimum price on alcohol to target problem drinking. But does making unhealthy products more expensive persuade people to make "better" choices? And what are the trade-offs associated with doing so?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43414777
 
Description Kate Smith interview on ITV News at 10 interview on soft drinks levy (sugar tax) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Kate Smith was interviewed on the ITV News at 10 discussing the soft drinks levy (sugar tax)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Kate Smith interview on Victoria Derbyshire Live (BBC News) on the sugar tax 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview on Victoria Derbyshire live on the 05/04/2018 about the sugar tax.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Kate Smith on alcohol duty 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In this podcast, Kate Smith talks about duties on alcohol to the Institute of Alcohol Studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8193
 
Description Oral evidence to select committee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Kate Smith gave oral evidence to health select committee
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Overexposed to unhealthy ads? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article published in society magazine discussing the potential role of advertising restrictions in combating obesity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://esrc.ukri.org/news-events-and-publications/news/news-items/overexposed-to-unhealthy-ads/
 
Description Presentation: Design of optimal corrective taxes in the alcohol market 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This presentation was delivered by Rachel Griffith at Sheffield University on 15 February 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Press release - Proposed 50p minimum unit price for alcohol would increase prices of around 70% of off-trade alcohol purchases 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release for briefing note on minimum pricing for alcohol
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/10252
 
Description Public economics: corrective taxes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact This presentation was given by Kate Smith at the Public Economics Lecture Day on 6 January 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public policy and food choices 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation given at Wellcome Trust seminar.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public policy to lower sugar intake 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on 'Public policy to lower sugar intake' given at the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum Keynote Seminar and a sugar reduction event in Westminster
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Rachel Griffith keynote presentation on whether sin taxes work 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation given as the keynote talk at the French Economic Association in Nice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://afse2017.sciencesconf.org/
 
Description Radio interview on BBC Radio Cornwall 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Martin O'Connell gave an interview to BBC Radio Cornwall on 18/12/2017 discussing alcohol minimum unit pricing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Radio interview on BBC Radio Devon 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Martin O'Connell was interviewed discussing alcohol minimum unit pricing on 18/12/2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Soda Tax Design 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation given by Kate Smith and Martin O'Connell at Barcelona GES Summer Forum, University College London PhD conference, and a seminar given at KU Leuven.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Temptation and Sugar Consumption 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation to the IIPF Annual Conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The design of corrective taxes under nonlinear externalities and heterogeneous tastes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This presentation was given at the Ce2 workshop in Warsaw
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The distributional effects of a soda tax 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This presentation was held at the Annual Congress of the International Institute of Public Finance in Lake Tahoe, USA.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description The soft drinks levy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This presentation was given at the IFS post-Budget presentation on 17 March 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Using public policy to improve diet 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation given at the Scottish Government Strategy Unit Seminar Series.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Video on VoxEU 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Kate Smith recorded for VoxEU at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference. The video was discusses how to design taxes when costs associated with drinking vary across people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://voxeu.org/content/designing-alcohol-taxes