April 21, 2005
Pratt Presents Normative Justifications for Food Excise Taxes Today at UCLA
Various normative theories have different implications for the implementation of food excise taxes as a response to the obesity epidemic. Under the economic approach, excise taxes on a good are warranted if consumption of the good generates negative externalities or if consumers are making decisions about consumption of the good with incomplete information...
Under the behavioral economic approach, excise taxes might be justified to correct for systematic information-processing and decision-making errors people make with respect to their diets....
Under the critical realist perspective, the focus is on the commercial manipulation of the situation....
Food excise taxes also might be justified under the soft paternalism approach to protect people from their own choices if dietary decision-making is flawed (for example, because of incomplete information). Hard paternalism is a far more controversial and problematic rationale for food excise taxes.
Food excise taxes may be justified as a correction for day-in-day-out systematic information processing and decision-making errors that consumers make with respect to diet. As policymakers consider implementing food excise taxes to respond to the obesity epidemic, they should be careful to design food excise taxes to fit the normative justification for them.
The workshop is from 3:00 - 5:00 pm PST in Room 2448 at UCLA. For Vic Fleischer's views, see here.
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