Research Expertise and Interest

behavioral economics, tax policy, soda taxes, payday loans, household consumption and portfolio choice, energy policy, health

Research Description

Dmitry Taubinsky applies insights from behavioral economics to questions about public policy, using a combination of theory, experiments, and observational data.  He studies topics such as people's (in)attention to not-fully-salient taxes; (mis)understanding of tax incentives such as those present in the income tax code; energy policy for consumers inattentive to the energy costs of durables; optimal "sin taxes" on sugary drinks; the welfare effects of social recognition; financial decision-making by low income populations such as payday loan borrowers; and policies aimed at improving savings decisions.

In the News

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
May 21, 2019
Laura McCrystal
A national tax on sodas and sugary drinks could benefit public health, a new analysis from Berkeley suggests. "What we're trying to do is evaluate whether soda taxes are good or bad overall for society," says assistant economics professor Dmitry Taubinsky, one of the study's co-authors. Along with other economists from the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, the team looked at several factors, including tax revenues, health outcomes, effect on health-care costs, the impact of soda taxes on low-income residents, as well as the pleasure people derive from the drinks, which makes them likely to drink it even when they know it's not good for them. Their cost-benefit analysis suggests that the optimal federal tax would be between 1 and 2.1 cents per ounce. The national tax is recommended so that people can't leave one area with the tax, such as Philadelphia, to buy the drinks in another -- untaxed -- area. "The issue is just that if Philadelphia imposes a soda tax but the neighboring cities do not, then people might engage in cross-border shopping," Professor Taubinsky says. "That is why we also think that instead of implementing taxes in a piecemeal city-by-city basis, it would be best if we did them larger-scale, at a state level or, even better, at a national level."
May 23, 2019

Dmitry Taubinsky of the University of California, Berkeley, is one of three authors publishing on the "optimal" tax rate that for sugar taxes.  

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