The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Recommended by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, and the American Public Health Association (among others), such taxes have been adopted by dozens of countries, including Mexico, Peru, Chile, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Norway, South Africa, India, the Philippines, and Samoa. Although the United States does not have a national tax on sweetened beverages, seven U.S. cities have adopted one since 2015.
This study, conducted by Mathematica staff in coordination with John Cawley at Cornell University and David Frisvold at the University of Iowa, evaluated the implementation and impact of these taxes in four cities, primarily in Philadelphia and Oakland, with additional analysis in San Francisco and Seattle. Its findings included the first-ever evidence of sweetened-beverage taxes’ effects on children. The research not only examined how residents’ consumption and purchases of taxed beverages changed after the taxes went into effect, but also examined how retailers responded to the taxes through changes in pricing, advertising, and product availability.
Evidence & Insights From This Project
The Impact of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax on Prices and Product Availability
This paper examines the impact of Philadelphia’s beverage tax, enacted in 2017, on the prices and availability of both taxed and untaxed beverages. We find that, on average, distributors and retailers fully passed through the tax to consumers. We also find that the tax reduced the availability of taxed beverages and increased the availability of untaxed beverages, particularly bottled water, in Philadelphia stores.Learn More