Rafael Schütz (PSE)

Thursday, February 1st 2024

Rafael Schütz (PSE) will present “Does it take a stick to eat a carrot? Food consumption, Pigouvian pricing, and the trade-off between the environment and animal welfare”.



The production of animal products, especially meat, accounts for 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It also endangers the welfare of billions of animals raised for food each year. Any intervention to reduce meat consumption thus faces a potential trade-off in producing a given amount of meat: high emissions (e.g. beef) vs. large number of animals reared and slaughtered (poultry). This paper investigates this trade-off empirically in the context of Pigouvian price interventions targeting animal source foods. Harmonizing 40 years of household expenditure survey and aggregate supply data from the UK, I first quantify food consumers' animal welfare footprints in a Distributional National Accounts framework. Regardless of the animal welfare indicator used, the footprints vary widely across the population, but are only weakly associated with income. Despite the increase in poultry meat consumption, mainly replacing beef and sheep, the distribution of footprints is relatively stable over time, with only a slight downward shift in recent years. Simulations predict that both a carbon price on food and an animal welfare levy will reduce both the environmental and animal welfare impacts of food consumption. This effect holds for demand-system and machine learning-based approaches.

Modification date : 26 January 2024 | Publication date : 26 January 2024 | Redactor : Régis Grateau