Essays on the Political Economy of Animal Welfare : Empirical Studies on Voter Behaviour and Stakeholder Participation
Animal welfare has become an important issue in the political discussion. In particular, the current agricultural housing standards no longer meet the increased social requirements. At the same time, existing literature focuses on economic analysis, i.e. the willingness to pay for different animal welfare aspects as well as the analysis of the reasons for market failure with regard to the provision of animal welfare. These analyses do not explicitly include political provision of animal welfare. In particular, the question to which extent concrete animal welfare policies are determined by lobbying or voting behaviour has not been empirically investigated yet. Therefore, the aim of this dissertation is to contribute to the research on the political economy of farm animal welfare. It addresses questions regarding animal welfare policy, considering the role of voters’ behaviour as well as the political influence of stakeholder. For both, voters as well as stakeholders, the empirical works takes into account policy beliefs. These are naive mental models of political actors with regard to the effect of specific policies on the relevant policy outcomes. At a methodical level, discrete choice models are applied to study voters’ behaviour. In particular, the corresponding contributions use probabilistic voter models as well as discrete choice experiment based willingness to pay measurements. Both approaches are combined to measure voters’ beliefs. The influence of stakeholder organizations is analysed using the social network based framework of informational lobbying as well as Bayesian estimation of exponential random graph models. The results show that the effect of animal welfare on voting behaviour is not as important as climate protection or social policy, but it is more important than water protection. Moreover, a gap between voters’ private willingness to pay for husbandry standards and their collective willingness to pay, i.e. trade-offs between animal welfare and other public goods, is identified. The combination of probabilistic voter models and willingness to pay measures reveals heterogeneous beliefs about the costs of providing animal welfare as well as other ecological goods. Furthermore, a systematic distortion of the voter beliefs has a significant influence on the preferred political provision of animal welfare. The analysis of stakeholder influence shows that especially actors of agriculture and animal production as well as animal protection organizations have strong informational lobbying influence. This structure implies that stakeholders evaluate a standardized testing and approval procedure for mass-produced livestock facilities as rather useful while the right for collective action is still evaluated as rather useless. Communication also lowers the evaluations of an animal husbandry knowledge certificate and the ban of living animal transports. The estimation results of a Bayesian exponential random graph model indicate that the influence structures are statistically robust and significant. Additionally, determinants of political communication can be identified.
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