Behavioral Food Subsidies

59 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2019

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: September 11, 2019

Abstract

We examine the potential of healthy food subsidies for reducing nutritional inequality through demand-side interventions. Using a pre-registered field experiment with low-income grocery shoppers, we show that low-cost, scalable behavioral interventions make subsidies substantially more effective. Our unique design allows us to elicit choices and deliver subsidies both before and during a shopping trip. We examine two novel interventions: giving shoppers greater agency through a choice between subsidies and introducing waiting periods designed to prompt deliberation about food purchases. The interventions increase healthy purchases by 61% relative to choiceless healthy subsidies, and 199% relative to a control group.

Keywords: agency, deliberation, nutrition, choice architecture, waiting periods, field experiment, behavioral economics

JEL Classification: D9, D12, C93

Suggested Citation

Brownback, Andy and Imas, Alex and Kuhn, Michael, Behavioral Food Subsidies (September 11, 2019). 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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