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A 'Fool' and His Sugar-Sweetened Beverage are Soon Taxed

Bogenschneider, Bret (2017) A 'Fool' and His Sugar-Sweetened Beverage are Soon Taxed Liverpool Law Review: a journal of contemporary legal issues, 38 (2). pp. 207-230.

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Tax policy informed by Libertarian paternalism suggests that taxes should be levied on non-‘rational’ choice (ie, where a person makes a ‘foolish’ decision by their own internal standards). In respect of excise taxes on sugar sweetened beverages, the regressivity of such policies can then be justified by reference to a progressive health effect, since the poor are more sensitive to changes in price and disproportionately tend to consume sugar sweetened beverages. However, as it currently stands, that conclusion is based merely on a presumption of irrationality of the poor as a class and neither the relative price of goods subject to such taxes, nor the associated ‘welfare loss’ from the levy of the tax, have been systematically measured. Such a presumption of non-‘rationality’ in food choice only holds with respect to persons who are not bound by relative prices of food, namely the wealthy. Accordingly, it is reasonable for scholars to consider the levy of excise taxes on unhealthy food consumed primarily by the wealthy (eg, foie gras) as a ‘nudge’ toward a healthier food choice. Furthermore, the poor are rational agents capable of analysing and comparing relative prices of food products taking into account the health effects. As various scholars have now proposed in medical journals, any incremental tax levied on the poor in respect of sugar-sweetened beverages should be offset, for example, with a credit for healthy foods including fruits and vegetables.

Item Type: Article
Subjects : Law
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Law
Authors :
Date : 25 March 2017
DOI : 10.1007/s10991-017-9199-1
Copyright Disclaimer : The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Keywords: libertarian paternalism; internality; Pigouvian tax; psychologism; rational choice theory; sugar sweetened beverage; taxation.
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 02 Mar 2017 11:43
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 17:12

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