Do people understand Sin Taxes? A Survey

Last registered on October 18, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Do people understand Sin Taxes? A Survey
Initial registration date
October 15, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
October 15, 2021, 6:05 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
October 18, 2021, 10:15 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Siena (I)

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Monash Business School - Department of Economics

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The purpose of this survey is to understand consumers' attitudes towards sin taxes.
Sin taxes are corrective taxes specifically levied on certain goods deemed harmful to society and individuals, for example alcohol and tobacco, soft drinks, fast foods, and gambling. They are used to increase the price in an effort to a) decrease demand, and b) decrease the long-run negative health care costs that excessive consumption of sin goods may impose on society and/or on consumers' themselves. Therefore, sin taxes serve two purposes. The first is that they raise public revenues. The second is that they are also meant to shape consumers' behavior and to increase social welfare. While the first purpose is highly salient, the second one is lowly salient, because benefits from this type of taxation are in the future and uncertain. Meanwhile public support for sin taxes and their political palatability remain low.

The research question we want to address is whether or not consumers and the general public understand the two purposes of sin taxes. In addition, we would like to test whether a lack of understanding may explain the low public support for corrective taxes we observe in the real world. Finally, we would like to test whether an increase in awareness and understanding (driven by specific information about the rationale of these taxes supplied to consumers and tax payers) would be of help in raising public support for sin taxes.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Tiezzi, Silvia and Erte Xiao. 2021. "Do people understand Sin Taxes? A Survey." AEA RCT Registry. October 18.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
support for sin taxes.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
In the survey, we have questions asking subjects whether they are in favor of sin taxes or
not. The same type of question is asked after the information treatment, i.e. after we supply
some specific information about the rationale behind sin taxes. By comparing asnwers before
and after the information treatments we should be able to say whether a better understanding
of the rationale of sin taxes affects public support.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The design includes 4 information treatments and one control treatment.
We will compare answers before and after the information treatments to see if by knowing
more and by understanding more about the scope and working of sin taxes subjects become
more willing to support them.
We should also be able to see which information changes the subjects attitude the most, i.e.
whether they are more sensitive to efficiency issues, the the distributional effects of taxes, or
to using taxes as a commitment device to consume less.
We plan on using a between subjects design, where we compare each information treatment
with the control treatment.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization will be done by the software.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms

100 observations for each of 5 treatments. We want to run the survey on two different
countries. We plan to collect 500 observations per country.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials