House Prices, Food Purchases, and Diet Quality

Posted: 20 Jun 2018

See all articles by Bo Zhang

Bo Zhang

College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology

Douglas H. Wrenn

Pennsylvania State University, Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education

Edward C. Jaenicke

College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology

Date Written: June 16, 2018

Abstract

Diet is important in determining health outcomes. Thus, it is important to understand the factors influencing dietary choice. Budget constraints are a common explanation for the poor dietary choices made by households in the U.S. We test this hypothesis by exploiting shocks to household budgets driven by changes in house prices. Using a comprehensive panel dataset of household food purchases matched to house price data, we find that household budgets have a positive effect on food expenditure, but find no effect on diet quality. We also find that the total quantity of food purchased increases as budget constraints are relaxed suggesting that changes in quantity is the primary driver of the expenditure change and not changes in prices. Finally, we demonstrate that the impact of budget constraints are larger for lower-income and younger households, while the effect on diet quality remains insignificant. Our results have important policy implications as they suggest that income-support programs, such as SNAP, may have a limited impact on diet quality, although they may increase overall food consumption.

Keywords: Food Consumption; Diet Quality; Budgets; House Prices

JEL Classification: D12; I12; I18

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Bo and Wrenn, Douglas H. and Jaenicke, Edward C., House Prices, Food Purchases, and Diet Quality (June 16, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3197590

Bo Zhang (Contact Author)

College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology ( email )

University Park, PA 16802-3306
United States

Douglas H. Wrenn

Pennsylvania State University, Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education ( email )

University Park, PA 16802-3306
United States

Edward C. Jaenicke

College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology ( email )

University Park, PA 16802-3306
United States

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