Do You Want Fries with that? An Exploration of Serving Size, Social Welfare, and Our Waistlines

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Thomas D. Jeitschko

Thomas D. Jeitschko

Michigan State University - Department of Economics

Rowena Pecchenino

NUI Maynooth - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2006

Abstract

Given increasing obesity rates, fingers are often pointed at "big food" and their marketing practices. Restaurant meals are indeed larger than home-cooked meals, and portion sizes have increased. We consider constrained "socially optimal"-rather than decentralized profit-maximizing-portions to see whether welfare maximizing strategies may also be waistline-increasing. We demonstrate that socially optimal restaurant meals are larger than average home-cooked meals, yet the choice to "super-size" alleviates the size discrepancy. Moreover, portion sizes at home and in restaurants increase with relative reductions in the marginal costs and/or relative increases in the fixed costs of meal preparation. (JEL I10, D11)

Suggested Citation

Jeitschko, Thomas D. and Pecchenino, Rowena, Do You Want Fries with that? An Exploration of Serving Size, Social Welfare, and Our Waistlines (July 2006). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 44, Issue 3, pp. 442-450, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1095602 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ei/cbj036

Thomas D. Jeitschko (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - Department of Economics ( email )

110 Marshall-Adams Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
United States
517-355-8302 (Phone)
517-432-1068 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.msu.edu/~jeitschk/

Rowena Pecchenino

NUI Maynooth - Department of Economics ( email )

County Kildare
Ireland
35317083751 (Phone)
35317083934 (Fax)

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