Consumer behaviour

Research in this area aims to understand the behaviour of consumers – their choice of which goods and services to purchase, the sensitivity of their decisions to changes in prices, the interdependence of decisions made by firms and those made by consumers, and the implications of all these factors for government policy and for the wider economy.

Past research at IFS has made substantial contributions to the understanding of these topics. Ongoing areas of interest include: household consumption and how it changes over the life cycle; the modelling of demand; behavioural economics and rationality; the measurement of consumption and expenditure; consumer and firm behaviour in the food market; the construction of price indices; and the distributional impact of inflation.

Designing alcohol taxes

| Video clip

Alcohol consumption can have negative externalities. In this video, Kate Smith discusses how to design taxes when costs associated with drinking vary across people. This video was recorded at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference in April 2017.

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Banning junk food adverts

| Video clip

Banning junk food adverts

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The effects of banning advertising in junk food markets

| External publications

There have been calls for restrictions on junk food advertising to tackle rising rates of obesity around the world. This column examines the likely effect of a ban on potato crisp advertising. Results suggest that the total quantity of crisps sold would fall by around 15% in the presence of a ban, or by 10% if firms respond with price cuts. The welfare benefits from this would depend on whether current advertising is persuasive, informative or complementary.

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