Research event

Is meat too cheap? Towards optimal meat taxation

A presentation by Linus Mattauch (Technical University of Berlin, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research). This event is part of the Political Economy Lunch Seminar (PELS).

Linus Mattauch holds the Robert Bosch Junior Professorship on Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in the Faculty of Economics and Management at the Technical University of Berlin. He also co-leads the Future Lab “Inequality, Human Well-Being and Development” at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research. Linus is also an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Oxford and a member of Economics for Inclusive Prosperity.

Event summary

Livestock is known to play a significant role in climate change and to negatively impact global nitrogen cycles and biodiversity. However, economically efficient policies for regulating meat production and consumption are under-researched. In the absence of first-best policy instruments for the livestock sector, second-best consumption taxes on meat can address multiple environmental externalities simultaneously, while improving diet-related public health. Here, we review the empirical basis for the ‘social costs of meat’ and study rationales for regulatory efforts to tax meat in high-income countries from the perspective of public, behavioural and welfare economics: (i) multiple environmental externalities, (ii) adverse effects on one’s own health, (iii) animal welfare, (iv) learning curves for 'alternative protein technologies', and (v) distributional effects. We conclude that meat is significantly underpriced and provide preliminary estimates of the environmental social costs associated with meat consumption. We identify several directions for future research towards optimal meat taxation.

The Political Economy Lunch Seminar offers an informal setting for Hertie School scholars and external speakers to present works in progress. Meetings are catered and last for only an hour. Seminars during the spring semester 2022 will take place online or on-site. Please use the registration form on the individual event pages to receive the login details. The upcoming events in the series are listed on this page and in the main events calendar. To explore past events click on the past events button.