The Geography of Poverty and Nutrition: Food Desserts and Food Choices Across the United States

78 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2018 Last revised: 17 Jul 2018

Hunt Allcott

New York University (NYU)

Rebecca Diamond

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Jean-Pierre Dubé

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2, 2018

Abstract

We study the causes of "nutritional inequality": why the wealthy tend to eat more healthfully than the poor in the U.S. Using two event study designs exploiting entry of new supermarkets and households' moves to healthier neighborhoods, we reject that neighborhood environments have economically meaningful effects on healthy eating. Using a structural demand model, we find that exposing low-income households to the same food availability and prices experienced by high-income households would reduce nutritional inequality by only 9%, while the remaining 91% is driven by differences in demand. In turn, these income-related demand differences are partially explained by education, nutrition knowledge, and regional preferences. These findings contrast with discussions of nutritional inequality that emphasize supply-side issues such as food deserts.

Keywords: Inequality, food deserts, event study, demand estimation, decomposition

JEL Classification: D12, I12, I14, L81, R20

Suggested Citation

Allcott, Hunt and Diamond, Rebecca and Dubé, Jean-Pierre, The Geography of Poverty and Nutrition: Food Desserts and Food Choices Across the United States (January 2, 2018). Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 18-6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3095779 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3095779

Hunt Allcott

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Rebecca Diamond

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Jean-Pierre H. Dube (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://gsb.uchicago.edu/fac/jean-pierre.dube

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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