Obesity rates have doubled in the last forty years, and a major cause is the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. In this paper, we identify channels through which information – about health benefits or taste – affects beverage choice. We conduct a field experiment in a school lunchroom with 2,500 children, evaluating the impact of informational prompts on beverage choice and consumption over 2 weeks. We find that prompts alone increase the proportion of children choosing and consuming the healthier white milk relative to sugar-sweetened chocolate milk from 20% in the control group to 30% in the treatment groups. Adding health or taste messaging to the prompt does not seem to make a difference. We survey students and find that most prompts affect perceived healthfulness of the milk, but not perceived taste. Finally, we find that the prompts are nearly as effective as a small non-monetary incentive.
How Do Informational Prompts Affect Choices in the School Lunchroom? by Chien-Yu Lai, John A. List, Anya Savikhin Samek :: SSRNMarch 6, 2017
Empty Discarded Pack Data and the Prevalence of Illicit Trade in Cigarettes by Alberto Aziani, Jonathan Kulick, Neill Norman, James E. Prieger :: SSRNFebruary 12, 2017
Illicit trade in tobacco products (ITTP) is big business in the United States and creates many harms including reduced tax revenues; damages to the economic interests of legitimate actors; funding for organized-crime and terrorist groups; negative effects of participation in illicit markets, such as violence and incarceration; and reduced effectiveness of smoking-reduction policies, leading to increased damage to health.
To improve data availability for study in this area, we describe and make available a large, novel set of data from empty discarded pack (EDP) studies. In EDP studies, teams of researchers collect all cigarette packs discarded (either in trash receptacles or as litter) in the public spaces of selected neighborhoods. Packs are examined for the absence of local tax stamps, signs of non-authentic packaging or stamps, and other indications of potential tax evasion or counterfeit product. We describe the data and analyze the prevalence of ITTP. Data from 23 collections in 10 U.S. cities from 2010 to 2014 are available, yielding 106,500 observations (by far the largest dataset of its kind available for academic study). Each observation includes dozens of variables covering the brand, location to the ZIP code level, tax status, counterfeit status, and other information about the pack.
There is significant evidence of tax avoidance (up to 74% of packs in New York City). In some markets there is also a significant amount of illicit trade (up to over half the market in New York City), which includes bootlegging, counterfeits, cigarettes produced for illicit-market sales, and cigarettes without any tax stamps. These data will be highly useful for research in illicit markets and organized crime.
This article will assail one of the central aspirations of Rawlsians and other liberal neutralists in the context of debates over some high-profile issues of political morality. I will ponder chiefly the problem of abortion, but I will also much more briefly treat of some other matters which are similar to that problem in respects that bear directly on my critique of neutralism. As this article will argue, the issues explored herein stymie the efforts of liberal neutralists to prescind from certain vexed points of contention ─ not because those issues render the avoidance of such points of contention especially difficult, but because they render it impossible.
In this article, I study fertility decisions with special emphasis on the timing of births and abortions over the life cycle. Given the policy debate regarding abortion availability and recent evidence of its positive impact on women’s outcomes, understanding the fertility process should help guide the discussion. Here, I present a life‐cycle model of consumption–savings and fertility decisions in an environment with uninsurable income shocks and imperfect fertility control. My model presents a framework in which both opportunity costs of child rearing and technological restrictions (in the form of contraception effectiveness) have roles shaping lifetime fertility choices.
A Foe More Than a Friend: Law and the Health of the American Urban Poor by David Ray Papke, Elise Papke :: SSRNFebruary 7, 2017
Social epidemiologists insist fundamental social conditions play a large role in the health problems of the American urban poor, but these well-intentioned scholars and practitioners do not necessarily appreciate how greatly law is intertwined with those social conditions. Law helps create and maintain the urban poor’s shabby and unhealthy physical environment, and law also facilitates behaviors among the urban poor that can result in chronic health conditions. Then, too, law shapes and configures the very poverty that consigns the urban poor to the inner city with its limited social capital and political clout. Overall, law creates and perpetuates the health problems of the urban poor more than it eliminates or ameliorates them. Social epidemiologists and others concerned with improving the urban poor’s health might therefore approach law as a foe more than a friend.
The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Smoking Cessation on Alcohol Consumption by Benjamin Ukert :: SSRNFebruary 4, 2017
This paper examines the short- and long-term effect of quitting smoking on alcoholic beverage consumption using the Lung Health Study, a randomized smoking cessation program. Building on the theory of rational addiction, I estimate the relationship between smoking and alcohol consumption using several different smoking measures. Moreover, I implement a two-stage Least squares estimation strategy utilizing the randomized smoking cessation program as an instrument. The empirical analysis leads to three salient findings. First, self-reported and clinically verified smoking measures suggest that quitting smoking lowers alcoholic beverages consumption by 11.5%. Second, cigarette consumption dating back up to 60 months affects alcohol consumption, and those with the highest average consumption see the largest increase in alcohol consumption. Lastly, the length of abstaining from smoking decreases alcohol consumption, where participants decrease alcohol consumption by up to 20% from baseline levels after five years of smoking cessation. As a result, these findings suggest that the public health and finance benefits are undervalued in smoking cessations treatments.
In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 136 S.Ct. 2292 (2016), the Supreme Court’s first major abortion decision in over two decades, Justice Anthony Kennedy allied with its liberal wing to strike down a set of abortion health regulations many States had adopted in anticipation of a Court more receptive to such restrictions. Writing for the five-justice majority, Justice Steven Breyer purported to apply the Court’s undue burden analysis adopted in the watershed decision of Casey v. Planned Parenthood, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). With Kennedy’s critical vote, the lead plurality in Casey had adopted the undue burden approach as a compromise that allowed it to reaffirm the commitment of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) to a pre-viability abortion right, but at the same time allowed States to place greater restrictions on it. The Casey plurality was particularly concerned the Court show substantial deference to State “persuasion regulations” — those designed to influence a woman’s choice in favor of having her child — but also ruled that maternal health regulations — those designed to promote the safety of the abortion procedure — were entitled to deference as well.
In his Hellerstedt opinion, however, Breyer transformed the Casey undue burden approach from one requiring substantial deference to abortion regulations — only overturning them if a plaintiff could prove they unduly burdened her abortion right — to a form of heightened scrutiny balancing that shifts much of the burden of proof back to States to show the regulations’ benefits. This was the same approach to maternal health regulations the Court had taken under the discarded Roe trimester framework — hence taking that tribunal “there and back again” in terms of its approach to them. The problem, however, is that Breyer did not differentiate between health and persuasion regulations in his opinion, raising the critical question of whether the Court intends to return to Roe’s stricter treatment of persuasion regulations as well.
This Article argues that even though Kennedy joined Breyer’s opinion without qualification, he would not subscribe to applying the new form of heightened scrutiny balancing to persuasion regulations. To do so would risk gutting the core of the Casey compromise he was instrumental to fashioning — allowing lower courts to weigh their benefits in promoting fetal life against their burdens on a woman’s decisional autonomy. Moreover, while health regulations can readily be imposed as a pretext to obstruct women’s access to abortions, persuasion regulations attempt to prevent abortions in a fairly transparent way. Hence, until the Court speaks more clearly on this matter, I believe lower courts would be advised to read Hellerstedt as requiring its new balancing approach solely for the type of regulation at issue in that case — maternal health regulations — and to continue applying Casey’s deferential approach to persuasion regulations.