Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Community Development and Applied Economics

First Advisor

Jane Kolodinsky

Second Advisor

Jean Harvey

Abstract

This thesis explores the conversation surrounding the recent attempts by the Vermont Legislature to pass a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage tax in the years 2014-2016. We explore the common perceptions expressed by a sample of Vermont residents and also look at how Vermont media outlets portrayed the tax through frames of reference. Framing is a method of emphasizing certain points of an issue. This thesis reports the common opinions of Vermonters, the media framing of the issue, and if there is any relationship between them in two academic journal articles.

The first article looks at the common frames used in Vermont media during the 2014-2016 period. Classifying 10 pro- and anti-tax frames from 30 common arguments, the article analyzes the use of these frames, their prevalence in different news outlets, and their frequency during time periods. The article also looks at sponsors of these frames and measures which frames individuals and organizations are sponsoring. The study finds that anti-tax advocates most often cite economic hindrances as a reason to oppose the tax and pro-tax advocates predominately cite health benefits and economic tax benefits as a reason to support the tax. In the final year, pro-tax advocates sponsored economic benefits more than any other frames and this argument coincided with the statewide discussion of a budget shortfall.

The second article measures the relationship between the media portrayal of the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage tax and the opinions of Vermont citizens regarding the tax. By looking at the prevalence of pro- and anti-tax frames usage in each year, a logistic regression model was built to measure the odds of people favoring tax based off of independent variables, including frames. Vermont residents fluctuated in their opinion of the tax over the years. It was found that in 2015, pro-tax frames made people more likely to support the tax. Democrats were also more likely to support the tax and Republicans were more likely to oppose the tax.

This thesis provides insight into the conversation surrounding Sugar-Sweetened Beverage taxes in Vermont. It helps to shed light on the issue, how different groups feel about the issue, and how frames of thought presented through the media can relate to Vermonters' opinion of the tax.

Language

en

Number of Pages

85 p.