Spatial Dynamics of Benefit Spending following the Philadelphia Sugary Drink Tax: A Synthetic Controls Evaluation

The City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania implemented an excise tax on sugar and artificially-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in January 2017. Several studies have examined the tax’s impact on purchasing and consumption of SSBs, with some evidence of tax avoidance via cross-border shopping, though none have focused on the tax’s effect on lower-income shoppers.

This study combines and leverages large administrative datasets from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), and applies a synthetic control approach to understand tax effects on shopping in Philadelphia and its neighboring municipalities.

Significant changes are documented in overall SNAP spending and participation-adjusted SNAP spending outcomes, indicating broader shopping changes beyond taxed goods alone. This study also highlights the potential for using SNAP data to explore place-based policy effects on food shopping and benefit spending.

This is a hybrid event, taking place in the Violet Butler Room, Department of Social Policy and Intervention and on Microsoft Teams.

Invitations with an MS Teams link will be sent to all DSPI members the day before each presentation.