Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 11:27 am

Obesity and Soft Drinks

Taxes or bans on large bottles of soft drinks containing sugar are not likely to have a significant effect on obesity rates because people will substitute towards consuming excessive calories in other ways.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel
Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Uncertain 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Uncertain 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Uncertain 5
Unlikely to have an impact, but worth evaluating!
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Agree 6
Also might not reduce obesity for other reasons - but not the only metric on which to evaluate the policy
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Agree 8
How much substitution not clear. Closest extant empirical evidence relates to soft drink taxes.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Disagree 8
Sugary drinks are subsidized by U.S. farm policy and are an important factor in overweight among children, leading to overweight adults.
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Disagree 7
Literature suggests otherwise.
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Uncertain 5
This is surely something that is worth studying empirically. I can think of good arguments on both sides and have no idea what would happen.
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford No Opinion
I don't have the necessary knowledge to handle this one.
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldin Claudia Goldin Harvard Disagree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Agree 7
Michael Anderson has done research partially related to this that shows that people are able to substitute across sources of calories easily
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Agree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Agree 3
Probably. Though proximity to fast food restaurants seems to matter, as if substitutability is limited.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Lazear Edward Lazear Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Agree 5
Seems unlikely this one change on its own would *significantly* reduce obesity.
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Disagree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Disagree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Uncertain 1
Is there any empirical work on this issue?
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Disagree 7
Bad question. Taxes unlikely to work if low but big cigarette takes reduce consumption and peoplle don't substitute other smoke!
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Disagree 5
There will be substitution & I don't like the paternalism, but there is growing evidence that such nudges can be effective.
Bio/Vote History
         
Zingales Luigi Zingales Chicago Disagree 2
This is a question a psychologist is better at answering. Are people aware of all the calories they assume? I do not think so.
Bio/Vote History
         

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

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