Do consumer price subsidies really improve nutrition?

Robert T. Jensen, Nolan H. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many developing countries use food-price subsidies or controls to improve nutrition. However, subsidizing goods on which households spend a high proportion of their budget can create large wealth effects. Consumers may then substitute toward foods with higher nonnutritional attributes (such as taste) but lower nutritional content per unit of currency, weakening or perhaps even reversing the subsidy's intended impact. We analyze data from a randomized program of large price subsidies for poor households in two provinces of China and find no evidence that the subsidies improved nutrition. In fact, they may have had a negative impact for some households.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1205-1223
Number of pages19
JournalReview of Economics and Statistics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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