Equity Impacts of Price Policies to Promote Healthy Behaviours

Franco Sassi, Annalisa Belloni, Andrew Mirelman, Marc Eckart Suhrcke, Alastair Thomas, Nisreen Salti, Sukumar Vellakkal, Chonlathan Visaruthvong, Barry Popkin, Rachel Nugent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Governments can use fiscal policies to regulate the prices and consumption of potentially unhealthy products. However, policies aimed at reducing consumption by increasing prices, for example by taxation, might impose an
unfair financial burden on low-income households. We used data from household expenditure surveys to estimate patterns of expenditure on potentially unhealthy products by socioeconomic status, with a primary focus on
low-income and middle-income countries. Price policies affect the consumption and expenditure of a larger number of high-income households than low-income households, and any resulting price increases tend to be financed
disproportionately by high-income households. As a share of all household consumption, however, price increases are often a larger financial burden for low-income households than for high-income households, most consistently in
the case of tobacco, depending on how much consumption decreases in response to increased prices. Large health benefits often accrue to individual low-income consumers because of their strong response to price changes. The
potentially larger financial burden on low-income households created by taxation could be mitigated by a pro-poor use of the generated tax revenues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number10134
Early online date5 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2018

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  • Sugar tax
  • Equity
  • fiscal policy
  • inequality
  • TAX

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