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CBEAR Fellows Virtual Seminar Series

Thank You For A Successful 2021 Series

The Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-environmental Research hosted its first virtual seminar series to feature recent work of CBEAR Fellows. Thank you for joining us for an outstanding lineup of presentations that highlighted experimental and behavioral economics research that addresses agri-environmental management and policy issues.

January 11th, 2021 at 12:00pm EST:

Dr. Sheila Walsh Reddy

Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives, Chief Strategy Office, The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

Conservation behavior and effects of economic and environmental message frames 

Emphasizing the economic and environmental benefits of conservation is business‐as‐usual for environmental organizations seeking to influence conservation behavior, but these message frames are rarely tested. We embedded a large message framing experiment into the recruitment for a conservation agriculture program targeting farmland owners in the Mississippi River Basin. We found that framed messages do not increase enrollment in the agricultural program—the desired conservation behavior—compared to an informational message (control) and may decrease enrollment among farmland owners not already using conservation practices (i.e., cover crops).

February 1st, 2021 at 1:00 pm EST:

Dr. Jim Cox

Noah Langdale Jr. Chair in Economics, Director of the Experimental Economics Center, Georgia State University 

Morally Monotonic Choice in Public Good Games

Decades of robust data from public good games with positive and negative externalities challenges internal consistency axioms that comprise rational choice theory. This paper reports an extension of rational choice theory that incorporates observable moral reference points. This morally monotonic choice theory is consistent with data in the literature and has idiosyncratic features that motivate new experimental designs. We report experiments on choices in public good games with positive, negative, and mixed-sign externalities, with and without non-binding quotas on extractions or minimum contributions. Data favors choices predicted by moral monotonicity over choices predicted by: (a) conventional rational choice theory; or (b) conventional reference dependent model of loss aversion.

(Working Paper available here: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2020-05.pdf)

February 15th, 2021 at 12:00 pm EST:

Dr. Tongzhe Li

Director FARE Laboratory for Experimental and Applied Economics, University of Guelph

The Impact of Expiration Dates Labels on Hedonic Markets for Perishable Products

This study draws inferences from a pre-registered field experiment to investigate how expiration dates impact consumer preferences for food products with different ages. Based on a power analysis, we recruited 373 adult participants for the experiment. The results demonstrate that expiration dates largely influenced the perceived freshness of a food product as they seem to indicate a quality standard. When no explicit expiration date was present, consumers believed that the product’s quality decreased monotonically as time passed. However, in the presence of an expiration-date label, consumers initially perceived the product as more acceptable, but then that perception changed quickly after the date of expiration to levels more consistent with what they would perceive if the expiration date was not present. These results support policies that label expiration dates for consumers, as these labels benefits consumers, producers, and the public, especially for times prior to the expiration date.  These results suggest that it is important to craft policy and market strategies for products that are past the expiration date, but are still safe to consume. Policies that set the expiration dates to the time where the taste quality begins to worsen would likely benefit both consumers and producers, while policies that set the expiration dates to the time where the food is no longer safe probably improve the public outcomes as it minimizes food waste.

March 8th, 2021 at 12pm EST:

Dr. Kelly Davidson

Assistant Professor of Applied Economics, University of Delaware 

Nudge to Insure: Can Informational Nudges Increase Enrollment in Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Rainfall Index Insurance?

Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) rainfall index insurance is designed to protect farmers and ranchers against the loss of forage produced to feed livestock. Enrollment in PRF remains low, despite the large number of livestock operations that depend on precipitation and forage for profitability, the fact that PRF is subsidized, and the existence of few other livestock insurance options. This research explores a novel approach to increasing insurance enrollment: whether exposure to an informational nudge increases the likelihood that a producer enrolls in PRF. We conduct a framed field experiment motivated by elements of the behavioral economics and crop insurance demand literatures to simulate PRF decisions among livestock farmers in the Northeast and Southeast United States. We find modest evidence that informational nudges were effective in increasing enrollment. Specifically, framing PRF as a risk management decision increases the likelihood that a participant will enroll, whereas framing PRF as a one-time investment has little to no effect on enrollment. Findings also illuminate factors that increase the likelihood of PRF enrollment, such as risk aversion and prior experience with PRF or other insurance programs. This experiment provides evidence that USDA RMA, Cooperative Extension educators, and crop insurance agents could increase enrollment in PRF without increasing premium subsidies simply by encouraging producers to reflect on the months when rainfall is most important to avoid forage loss on their operations. Given this is the first study using nudges to explore farmer behavior in the Federal Crop Insurance Program, we believe this research direction shows promise and should be explored more thoroughly in the future.