The team targeted low-income neighborhoods in Berkeley and San Francisco, collecting data before and after the vote on a soda tax in each city. The tax passed in Berkeley but not in San Francisco.
Before the vote, consumers in both cities reported that they drank about 1.25 sugary beverages daily on average. After the vote, people in San Francisco reported that they were drinking more sugary beverages, while consumption went down by 21 percent in Berkeley.
John Cawley, a professor of public policy and economics at Cornell University, said the decrease in consumption as a result of a price increase made sense, though he didn’t expect such a large decrease. He noted, however, that the estimated 21 percent decrease has a large margin of error. “It will be interesting, as more information comes in, whether this finding holds up,” Cawley said.
In addition to the soda tax, there may be more factors at play in the consumption decrease.
“It’s possible that successful campaigning around the tax raised awareness of the health impacts of sugary drinks, which may have also shifted dietary choices in Ber