The aim of the proposed research is to better understand individual behaviour in food markets, and to provide new evidence on the potential impacts of proposed policy interventions that seek to improve nutritional outcomes. Our focus will be on understanding what form preferences take and what factors might influence preference formation. We will extend economic models of food choice to reflect potential non-standard features of behaviour such as habits and temptation and we will also study the effects on decision making of advertising. To study habit formation, we will use food purchasing information on migrants and on children and their parents. We will study how we can incorporate behavioural biases such as temptation and self-control into the standard economic models of demand and use information on purchases people make for immediate and future consumption to estimate these models. We will also allow for potentially persuasive effects of advertising on consumers’ choices. Finally, we will use these new models of demand to carry out ex ante policy evaluation of reforms that change relative prices or costs to study how the existence of habits formation or behavioural biases effect the potential impact of policy reform. When considering such policy counterfactuals we will analyse firm behaviour, accounting for dynamic strategic interactions between firms, in order to assess the long run impact on both demand and supply of government policy (such as taxes).
Project : 2016 – 2019