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Pay (for it) as you go: prepaid energy meters and the heat-or-eat dilemma

Burlinson, A., Davillas, A. and Law, C. ORCID: (2022) Pay (for it) as you go: prepaid energy meters and the heat-or-eat dilemma. Social Science & Medicine, 315. 115498. ISSN 0277-9536

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115498


The “heat-or-eat” dilemma, a trade-off typically between food consumption and heating, may elevate public health concerns during the 2022 energy-price crisis. Our paper contributes to the literature by exploring the role of domestic energy prepayment meters (PPMs) in the heat-or-eat dilemma, focusing on the association between PPM use and fruit and vegetable consumption. Using a representative sample of 24,811 individuals residing in Great Britain (January 2019 – May 2021), we find robust evidence of lower fruit and vegetable consumption amongst individuals using PPMs, compared to those using post-payment energy bill payment methods. On average, our point estimates suggest that individuals using a PPM consume 2.7 fewer portions of fruit and vegetables per week. Our findings hold when bounding analysis is employed to account for omitted variable bias. Using a suite of IV approaches to further alleviate endogeneity concerns we found that our ordinary least squares results are consistent as opposed to IV models. Further robustness analyses highlight the deleterious impact of PPMs on people’s healthy eating habits relevant to the consumption of enough fruit and vegetables. Our results suggest that targeted support for PPM users may have beneficial effects on people’s fruit and vegetable consumption patterns.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH)
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Agri-Food Economics & Marketing
ID Code:108586


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