Behavioral Food Subsidies

60 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2019 Last revised: 13 May 2020

See all articles by Andy Brownback

Andy Brownback

University of Arkansas

Alex Imas

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Michael Kuhn

University of Oregon - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 11, 2020

Abstract

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

Brownback, Andy and Imas, Alex and Kuhn, Michael, Behavioral Food Subsidies (May 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3422272 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3422272

Andy Brownback (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas ( email )

Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

Alex Imas

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Michael Kuhn

University of Oregon - Department of Economics ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.uoregon.edu/mkuhn

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