09/21/2021

Are Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes Regressive? Evidence from Household Retail Purchases

•Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages are proposed with the promise to improve public health outcomes, but they come with equity concerns because of their regressive nature.
•We use Nielsen consumption data to explore the relationship between household income and measures of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by expenditures and fluid ounces.
•If a nationwide tax were levied on sugar-sweetened beverages, about two-thirds of the revenues would be derived from middle-income households between $20,000 and $100,000, assuming these income groups would have similar behavioral adjustments to such a tax.
•For an excise tax based on fluid ounces, 78 percent of the tax collections would come from households with income under $100,000.
•The share of household income devoted to expenditures on sugar-sweetened drinks decreases by about 0.01 percent for every 1 percent increase in income, implying a regressive expenditure pattern.

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