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Does Information Disclosure Improve Consumer Knowledge? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of Restaurant Menu Calorie Labels

We estimate the impact of information disclosure on consumer knowledge in an important context: the calorie content of restaurant food. We conduct a randomized controlled experiment of calorie labels on restaurant menus, and find that information disclosure improves consumer knowledge but does not eliminate the problem of imperfect information. Calorie labels improve consumers’ post-meal estimates of the number of calories they ordered by 4.0 percent and reduce by 28.9 percent the probability that consumers underestimate the calories in their meal by half or more. However, even after information disclosure, the absolute value of percent error averages 34.2 percent.