The Impact of Information Disclosure on Consumer Behavior: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment of Calorie Labels on Restaurant Menus

37 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2018

See all articles by John Cawley

John Cawley

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM); Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics; The University of Sydney - School of Economics; National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics; NBER; IZA

Alex Susskind

Cornell University

Barton Willage

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Date Written: August 2018

Abstract

The impact of information on consumer behavior is a classic topic in economics, and there has recently been particular interest in whether providing nutritional information leads consumers to choose healthier diets. For example, a nationwide requirement of calorie counts on the menus of chain restaurants took effect in the U.S. in May, 2018, and the results of such information disclosure are not well known.To estimate the impact of menu labeling, we conducted a randomized controlled field experiment in two full-service restaurants, in which the control group received the usual menus and the treatment group received the same menus but with calorie counts. We estimate that the labels resulted in a 3.0% reduction in calories ordered, with the reduction occurring in appetizers and entrees but not drinks or desserts. Exposure to the information also increases consumers’ support for requiring calorie labels by 9.6%. These results are informative about the impact of the new nationwide menu label requirement, and more generally contribute to the literature on the impact of information disclosure on consumer behavior.

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Suggested Citation

Cawley, John and Susskind, Alex and Willage, Barton, The Impact of Information Disclosure on Consumer Behavior: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment of Calorie Labels on Restaurant Menus (August 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24889. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3226841

John Cawley (Contact Author)

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM) ( email )

3M24 MVR Hall
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Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

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The University of Sydney - School of Economics ( email )

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Australia

National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics ( email )

Galway
Ireland

NBER

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IZA ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
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Germany

Alex Susskind

Cornell University

Barton Willage

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge ( email )

Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States

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