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Ebooks on agriculture and the applied life sciences from CAB International

CABI Book Chapter

The economics of farm animal welfare: theory, evidence and policy.

Book cover for The economics of farm animal welfare: theory, evidence and policy.


This book contains 9 chapters that discuss some of the latest developments in economic research that are relevant to animal welfare and related policy development, including the evolution of animal welfare as a branch of animal science; animal welfare from an economic theory perspective; consumer demand and related quantitative methods such as willingness to pay; economics of production; supply si...


Chapter 2 (Page no: 30)

Farm animal welfare: do free markets fail to provide it?

Animal welfare is often claimed to be a 'public good', i.e. requiring government intervention and legislation to ensure that animal welfare is respected. In other words, markets, on their own, cannot be relied on to deliver socially acceptable animal welfare. In fact, the issues surrounding animal welfare are more complex and subtle than this. This chapter first explains the general features of public goods, as defined and recognized in economics (Section 2). It then turns to the specific case of animal welfare (Section 3) and explains that outlawing cruelty to animals is clearly a genuine public good, but improving animal welfare can only be achieved by reflecting consumers' willingness to pay for better animal welfare production. However, there is a clear disconnect between citizens' apparent concerns about animal welfare and their exhibited willingness to pay for better animal welfare. Does this imply a clear market failure? This apparent failure is examined with the aid of a thought experiment, and identifies the nature of the problem - a combination of information and communication deficiencies with peoples' limited availability of time, resources and motivation to attend to all social issues with each and every purchase decision. The underlying problem is one of consumption externality - other peoples' consumption decisions affect my/your assessment of our own welfare - since farmed animal welfare depends on peoples' consumption decisions.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 1) Farm animal welfare: origins, and interplay with economics and policy. Author(s): Lawrence, A. Vigors, B.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 53) Consumer demand for animal welfare products. Author(s): Akaichi, F. Revoredo-Giha, C.
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 75) People's preferences in relation to animal welfare. Author(s): Bennett, R.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 98) Animal welfare and farm economics: an analysis of costs and benefits. Author(s): Niemi, J. K.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 117) Poultry breeding for sustainability and welfare. Author(s): Neeteson, A. M. AvendaƱo, S. Koerhuis, A.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 147) EU regulations and the current position of animal welfare. Author(s): Broom, D. M.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 156) Animal welfare measures and the WTO Post-EC - seal products case: a renewed debate and research agenda. Author(s): MacIel, C. Bock, B.
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 173) Farm animal welfare: the future. Author(s): Stott, A. Ahmadi, B. V.

Chapter details

  • Author Affiliation
  • Centre for Rural Economy, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK.
  • Year of Publication
  • 2020
  • ISBN
  • 9781786392312
  • Record Number
  • 20203308008