Should Sweden impose excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in order to improve public health?

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för industriell ekonomi

Sammanfattning: In recent time, several reports have been published about a more and more unhealthy population world wide, with increasing Body Mass Index (BMI) in welfare countries, such as Sweden. Diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, which is strongly connected to a high BMI, have increased and together with them also the medical expenses for society/state. Several initiatives have been started, in different countries, to tackle these problems and some have introduced a “sugar tax” on unhealthy products, like candy and soda, which has become a well- debated subject also in Sweden today. In this MBA master thesis, a literature study has been conducted with the goal of evaluating if an excise tax should be introduced in an efficient way on unhealthy sugar-sweetened beverages in Sweden. This case study is built on secondary data where reports and official statistics, from governments and health authorities/organizations, have been studied both for Sweden as well as from other countries. There has been a particular focus on Sweden's neighbouring countries Denmark and Finland, who has both experiences in the implementation of a “sugar tax”. Our theory is that introducing an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages will reduce the demand and consumption of these products, which will reduce welfare disease such as obesity and diabetes and yield a tax income for the state. However it is important to have in mind that the reduced consumption also will result in less tax income from the no longer sold goods, fewer personnel employed in the producing industries etc. The results showed that the overall sugar consumption actually has decreased in Sweden, as well as the overall consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. However during the same time period the average calorie consumption and BMI has continued to increase resulting in a more unhealthy population that results in increased medical expenses. In conclusion an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages will not solve the welfare disease problems but may positively influence health. However it comes with a price also for the state from both gains and loss in tax incomes and increased administrations costs for managing the new tax. Finally it should be noted that since sugar-sweetened beverages are unhealthy products, which do not contribute to any positive health effects, sugar taxation might still be considered. 

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