Behavioral Food Subsidies
60 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2019 Last revised: 13 May 2020
Date Written: May 11, 2020
We conduct a pre-registered field experiment with low-income grocery shoppers to study how behavioral interventions can improve the effectiveness of healthy food subsidies. Our unique design enables us to elicit choices and deliver subsidies both before and at the point of purchase. We examine the effects of two non-restrictive changes to the choice environment: giving shoppers a choice over the type of subsidy they receive and introducing a waiting period before the shopping trip to prompt deliberation about the food purchase decision. Combined, our interventions substantially improve the effectiveness of subsidies, increasing healthy purchases by 61% relative to a choice-less subsidy restricted to healthy food, and 199% relative to an un-subsidized control group. We discuss how these low-cost, scalable interventions can help mitigate nutritional inequality.
Keywords: nutrition, subsidy, agency, deliberation, waiting periods, field experiment
JEL Classification: D9, D12, C93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation