Manufacturers' responses to new nutrition labeling regulations
The goal of my dissertation is to explain the complex relationship between government regulation of consumer information and firms' responses to the new nutrition labeling regulations under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) in terms of product offerings, use of nutrition labeling and claims made. Thus, the focus is on companies' responses and the performance outcomes of this regulatory/strategy interaction in terms of product quality and availability, as well as reliability of product information.
My dissertation also analyzes manufacturers' incentives to introduce or reposition products to meet increased demand for food with healthier nutritional attributes. I employ theoretical work by Grossman and other authors to explore the necessary and sufficient conditions for quality information (e.g., nutritional and health claims) to be adequately supplied and for markets for products of varying quality to exist. In addition my study evaluates the scope of nutritional quality changes caused by the introduction of the NLEA. The data set I use allows me to compute quality change indexes for small continuous changes in nutritional quality and quantify the subjective notion of the "quality" of food products by measuring specific combinations of nutritional characteristics. The data set contains a complete census of all products offered in 33 product categories in a representative superstore in Massachusetts, including 850 to 1025 branded and private label products for the years 1991 through 1995.
0511: Economic theory