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A Comparison of Actual and Hypothetical Willingness to Pay of Parents and Non-Parents for Protecting Infant Health: The Case of Nitrates in Drinking Water


  • Loomis, John B.
  • Bell, Paul
  • Cooney, Helen
  • Asmus, Cheryl


We estimate adults’ willingness to pay (WTP) to reduce health risks to their own or other families’ infants to test for altruism. A conjoint analysis of adults paying for bottled water found marginal WTP for reduction in risk of shock, brain damage, and mortality in the cash treatment of $2, $3.70, and $9.43, respectively. In the hypothetical market these amounts were $14, $26, and $66, indicating substantial hypothetical bias, although not unexpected due to the topic of infant health. Statistical tests confirm a high degree of altruism in our WTP results, and altruism held even when real money was involved.

Suggested Citation

  • Loomis, John B. & Bell, Paul & Cooney, Helen & Asmus, Cheryl, 2009. "A Comparison of Actual and Hypothetical Willingness to Pay of Parents and Non-Parents for Protecting Infant Health: The Case of Nitrates in Drinking Water," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 41(3), pages 1-15, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:joaaec:56657
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.56657

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    Cited by:

    1. Kanya, Lucy & Saghera, Sabina & Lewin, Alex & Fox-Rushby, Julia, 2019. "The criterion validity of willingness to pay methods: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 100741, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Niedermayr, A. & Schaller, L. & Kieninger, P. & Kantelhardt, J., 2018. "Integrating soil and climate-related aspects into the valuation of willingness to pay for public goods provided by agriculture in an intensive agricultural production region: The case of the Marchfeld," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 276963, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:6:p:2061-:d:153030 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. William Desvousges & Kristy Mathews & Kenneth Train, 2016. "From Curious to Pragmatically Curious: Comment on "From Hopeless to Curious? Thoughts on Hausman's "Dubious to Hopeless" Critique of Contingent Valuation"," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 38(1), pages 174-182.
    5. repec:eee:indorg:v:55:y:2017:i:c:p:1-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ritten, Chian Jones & Breunig, Ian M., 2013. "Willingness to Pay for Programs for the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine on a Rocky Mountain West College Campus," Western Economics Forum, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 12(1), pages 1-15.
    7. Mørkbak, Morten Raun & Olsen, Søren Bøye & Campbell, Danny, 2014. "Behavioral implications of providing real incentives in stated choice experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 102-116.
    8. Azucena Gracia, 2014. "Consumers’ preferences for a local food product: a real choice experiment," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 111-128, August.
    9. Mohammed H. Alemu & Søren B. Olsen, 2017. "Can a Repeated Opt-Out Reminder remove hypothetical bias in discrete choice experiments? An application to consumer valuation of novel food products," IFRO Working Paper 2017/05, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.
    10. John B. Loomis, 2013. "Incorporating distributional issues into benefit–cost analysis: why, how, and two empirical examples using non-market valuation," Chapters,in: Principles and Standards for Benefit–Cost Analysis, chapter 9, pages 294-316 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    Agricultural and Food Policy; Consumer/Household Economics; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy; Institutional and Behavioral Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling


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