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Willingness to Pay versus Willingness to Vote: Consumer and Voter Avoidance of Genetically Modified Foods

Gina Waterfield, Scott Kaplan and David Zilberman ()

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2020, vol. 102, issue 2, 505-524

Abstract: Many technologies face disapproval from some portion of the general public due to perceived risks or externalities. Individuals can respond to these controversial technologies either as consumers by choosing favorable alternatives or as voters by supporting regulation. We examine the relationship between willingness to pay a premium for products that avoid a controversial technology and willingness to vote in favor of a ban or mandatory labeling, with a focus on how this relationship is influenced by income and perceived risks. In a survey regarding genetically modified (GM) food, we find that the majority of respondents make consumer and voter choices that can be explained by a standard utility maximization framework. However, certain respondent characteristics are correlated with inconsistent choice patterns. In particular, low‐income voters appear to be overly supportive of regulation relative to their private willingness to pay. Voters who are uncertain about the safety of GM food also tend to be more in favor of regulation than their consumer choices would imply.

Date: 2020
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https://doi.org/10.1002/ajae.12001

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