Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy Seminar

Date 10/04/17 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Presenter(s) Bo Zhang
Location 157 Hosler Building

Do Wealth Shocks Affect Diet Quality? Evidence from the Housing Market

Paper Abstract

Given the role that diet plays in determining health outcomes, it is important to determine the key factors determining dietary choice. It is also important to understand what drives disparities in diet quality, especially across socioeconomic groups. One explanation for household dietary disparity relates to the cost of purchasing healthy food and the impact that household budgets have on dietary choice. In this paper, we investigate how household food consumption and household diet quality change following a large-scale shock to household wealth. Specifically, we look at how household food consumption changes following large-scale changes in housing prices which differentially impact household budgets.

Combining a unique micro-level panel dataset of quarterly household grocery purchases with quarterly housing-price data at the zip code, we investigate how time-series variation in house prices impacts both the total quantity of food consumed as well as the healthfulness of that food. Our results show that while total food purchases increase by 7 percent for a 100 percent increase in house prices, diet quality does not change that much. We also find that in zip codes populated predominantly by homeowners both food expenditure and diet quality rise, but in zip codes with mostly renters these changes are negative or non-existent. In all cases, we find considerable heterogeneity across income, age, and education groups. Our results have important policy implications as they suggest that income-support policies designed to relax budget constraints and improve household diet quality may have a limited impact.

A light lunch will be provided.  We hope to see you all there!

Kate Zipp and Joel R. Landry, EEEP Seminar Coordinators


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