Behavioral Food Subsidies
57 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 18, 2019
We conduct a pre-registered field experiment with low-income grocery shoppers to study how behavioral interventions can be leveraged to improve the effectiveness of subsidies for healthy food purchases. Our unique design enables us to elicit choices between subsidies and deliver subsidies both before and at the point of purchase. We examine the effect of two non-restrictive changes to the choice environment: giving shoppers greater agency over the choice of subsidies and introducing a waiting period before the shopping trip to prompt deliberation about the subsidy and food purchasing decision. When combined, these changes substantially increase the effectiveness of subsidies, increasing healthy purchases by 61% relative to a restricted healthy food subsidy and 199% relative to an un-subsidized control group. Given the low cost and potential scalability of our interventions, our findings have significant implications for policy and intervention design.
Keywords: agency, deliberation, nutrition, choice architecture, waiting periods, field experiment
JEL Classification: D9, D12, C93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation