Do prices and purchases respond similarly to soft drink tax increases and cuts?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

While in January 2012, Denmark increased the long-standing tax on sugary soft drinks, the tax was cut by half in July 2013 and then completely repealed in January 2014. In this study, we examine whether increases and cuts of the soft drink tax lead to similar over- or under-shifting to prices and to similar demand responses. We use longitudinal scanner data of 1,282 Danish households to estimate within-product changes in prices and within-household changes in purchase quantity. The tax hike was overshifted by a factor of 1.6–1.8, while the tax repeal was fully passed through with a factor of 0.9–1.2. On average, consumption was 13.4 percent lower the year after the tax increase compared to the year before. The repeal of the tax was associated with an increase in purchase quantity of 31.0 percent. This is equivalent to price elasticities of −1.3 for both tax hikes and cuts. The results suggest that consumers react similarly to tax cuts compared to tax increases. Furthermore, the increase in purchases following a tax cut has no limiting effect on purchases of other beverages suggesting an increase in the intake of calories. This might have implications for health in countries that consider repealing current taxes on soft drinks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100864
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Pass-through rates, Policy evaluation, Purchase changes, Soda tax, Soft drink tax, Tax repeal

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