Actions speak louder than words
Do you support the banning of cage eggs? Yes! So you buy free-range eggs, right?
Gone are the days when everyone had a chicken or two in the backyard, laying fresh eggs daily. Back when you could swap your excess eggs for a slice of Mrs Smith’s chocolate cake. Gone are the days……
Nowadays mass production of goods is the way. The key to success is maximum output, minimal costs and optimum efficiencies. Mass food production is no exception. There is a well known market failure in the food production system, animal welfare, in particular farm animal welfare. This poses the question of how much extra are consumers willing to pay to alter legislation and production in the interest of animal welfare. The premium prices paid for free-range eggs, chicken, pork etc can provide a slight indication of consumers’ values and concerns about animal welfare based on their actions. But for those who do not pay the extra, does this mean they do not care about animal welfare?
A way to determine willingness to pay is the Contingent Valuation method. People are asked to state how much they are willing to pay in relation to a specific hypothetical scenario. This method generates much debate and controversy due to the use of data from what people say they would do, rather than inferring what people would do from observing their actual behaviour. The value determined by this method is considered to be unrealistic, often incorporates ‘warm glow’, ‘part-whole’ response biases and usually overestimates the true value of the matter in question. For example a contingent valuation survey of 2000 people in Great Britain was conducted to establish people’s concern about animal welfare and their willingness to pay to support legislation to phase out the use of cages in egg production in the European Union (EU) by 2005. Respondents were found to include animal welfare in general in their response, finding it difficult to only consider cage-egg production. Understandably, people feel that legislation for one issue may help improve chances for subsequent legislation for another, referred to as ‘whole-part’ bias. Also, a ‘warm-glow’ effect can occur where people feel like their payment is a charitable donation to a worthy cause. These external forces are reflected in the amount people are willing to pay and result in an overstated value toward the specific issue at hand, adding further support to the debate about the contingent valuation method.
(even potential for higher profits) than the estimated higher costs to produce non-cage eggs.
So, actions speak louder than words. You buy free-range eggs, right!
Bennett, R 1998, Measuring Public Support for Animal Welfare Legislation: A Case Study of Cage Egg Production. Animal Welfare, 7, 1-10
Posted by Cheryl Day