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An economic model of the meat paradox

Nina Hestermann, Yves Le Yaouanq () and Nicolas Treich ()

European Economic Review, 2020, vol. 129, issue C

Abstract: Many individuals have empathetic feelings towards animals but frequently consume meat. We investigate this “meat paradox” using insights from the literature on motivated reasoning in moral dilemmata. We develop a model where individuals form self-serving beliefs about the suffering of animals caused by meat consumption in order to alleviate the guilt associated with their dietary choices. The model predicts that the price of meat has a causal effect on individuals’ beliefs: high prices foster realism by lowering the returns to self-deception, which magnifies the price elasticity of meat consumption. The model also predicts a positive relationship between individuals’ taste for meat and their propensity to engage in self-deception, a causal effect of aggregate consumption on individual beliefs, and the coexistence of equilibria of “collective realism” and “collective denial”.

Keywords: Meat paradox; Self-deception; Price elasticity; Moral wiggle room (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D81 D83 D84 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Working Paper: An economic model of the meat paradox (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: An economic model of the meat paradox (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: An Economic Model of the Meat Paradox (2019) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2020.103569

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