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Mercury advisories and household health trade-offs

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  • Shimshack, Jay P.
  • Ward, Michael B.

Abstract

The conventional economic wisdom is that improving consumer information will enhance welfare. Yet, some scientists speculate that the Food and Drug Administration's prominent mercury in fish advisory may have harmed public health. Lower mercury intakes reduce neurological toxicity risks. However, since seafood is the predominant dietary source of healthful omega-3 fatty acids, reduced fish consumption may have significant offsetting health impacts. We explore this risk trade-off using a rich panel of household-level seafood consumption data. To control for confounding factors, we use a non-parametric changes-in-changes approach. We find strong evidence that while the advisory reduced mercury loadings, it did so at the expense of substantial reductions in healthful omega-3s. We find this response pattern even for consumers with low fish consumption. Using advisory response patterns as inputs into a prominent risk assessment model, the central estimate is that net benefits from the advisory were negative.

Suggested Citation

  • Shimshack, Jay P. & Ward, Michael B., 2010. "Mercury advisories and household health trade-offs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 674-685, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:29:y:2010:i:5:p:674-685
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    Cited by:

    1. Chantal Toledo & Sofia Berto Villas-Boas, 2019. "Safe or Not? Consumer Responses to Recalls with Traceability," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 41(3), pages 519-541, September.
    2. Carrieri, Vincenzo & Principe, Francesco, 2022. "WHO and for how long? An empirical analysis of the consumers’ response to red meat warning," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C).
    3. Adam Dvir, 2022. "Is mass media an effective channel for conveying nutritional information? Welfare implications of the WHO classification of processed meats as carcinogenic on consumers in Israel," French Stata Users' Group Meetings 2022 21, Stata Users Group.
    4. Rheinberger, Christoph M. & Hammitt, James K., 2014. "The welfare value of FDA's mercury-in-fish advisory: A dynamic reanalysis," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 113-122.
    5. Lin, Dajun & Lutter, Randall & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2018. "Cognitive performance and labour market outcomes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 121-135.
    6. Robinson, Lisa A. & Viscusi, W. Kip & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 2016. "Efficient Warnings, Not "Wolf or Rabbit" Warnings," Working Paper Series 16-033, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    7. José G. Dórea, 2010. "Research into Mercury Exposure and Health Education in Subsistence Fish-Eating Communities of the Amazon Basin: Potential Effects on Public Health Policy," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 7(9), pages 1-11, September.
    8. Alison L. Sexton Ward & Timothy K. M. Beatty, 2016. "Who Responds to Air Quality Alerts?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 65(2), pages 487-511, October.
    9. Timothy K. M. Beatty & Jay P. Shimshack & Richard J. Volpe, 2019. "Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Response: Evidence from Sales of Emergency Supplies Before and After Hurricanes," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 633-668.
    10. Nydia‐Yuriana Zamora‐Arellano & Miguel Betancourt‐Lozano & César Ilizaliturri‐Hernández & Jaqueline García‐Hernández & Matín Jara‐Marini & Cristina Chávez‐Sánchez & Jorge Ricardo Ruelas‐Inzunza, 2018. "Mercury Levels and Risk Implications Through Fish Consumption on the Sinaloa Coasts (Gulf of California, Northwest Mexico)," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 38(12), pages 2646-2658, December.
    11. Martin Browning & Lars Gårn Hansen & Sinne Smed, 2019. "Heterogeneous Consumer Reactions to Health News," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 101(2), pages 579-599.
    12. Colmer, Jonathan & Lin, Dajun & Liu, Siying & Shimshack, Jay, 2021. "Why are pollution damages lower in developed countries? Insights from high-Income, high-particulate matter Hong Kong," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    13. Rheinberger, Christoph M. & Hammitt, James K., 2011. "Risk-Risk Tradeoffs in Fish Consumption: Can You Have the Cake and Eat It Too?," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114813, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    14. Anna Alberini, 2017. "Measuring the economic value of the effects of chemicals on ecological systems and human health," OECD Environment Working Papers 116, OECD Publishing.
    15. Kahn, Matthew E. & Kok, Nils, 2014. "The capitalization of green labels in the California housing market," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 25-34.
    16. Tran, Cong Duc & Nguyen, Tin Trung, 2021. "Health vs. privacy? The risk-risk tradeoff in using COVID-19 contact-tracing apps," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    17. Martine Bellanger & Céline Pichery & Dominique Aerts & Marika Berglund & Argelia Castaño & Mája Čejchanová & Pierre Crettaz & Fred Davidson & Marta Esteban & Marc E Fischer & Anca Elena Gurzau & Katar, 2013. "Economic benefits of methylmercury exposure control in Europe: Monetary value of neurotoxicity prevention," Post-Print hal-01505639, HAL.
    18. Karen Rideout & Tom Kosatsky, 2017. "Fish for Dinner? Balancing Risks, Benefits, and Values in Formulating Food Consumption Advice," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 37(11), pages 2041-2052, November.
    19. Mertens, Frédéric & Saint-Charles, Johanne & Mergler, Donna, 2012. "Social communication network analysis of the role of participatory research in the adoption of new fish consumption behaviors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(4), pages 643-650.
    20. Chen, Victor L. & Delmas, Magali A. & Locke, Stephen L. & Singh, Amarjeet, 2017. "Information strategies for energy conservation: A field experiment in India," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 215-227.
    21. Hirotsugu Uchida & Cathy A. Roheim & Robert J. Johnston, 2017. "Balancing the Health Risks and Benefits of Seafood: How Does Available Guidance Affect Consumer Choices?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1056-1077.
    22. Rodrigo Aranda & Michael Darden & Donald Rose, 2021. "Measuring the impact of calorie labeling: The mechanisms behind changes in obesity," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(11), pages 2858-2878, November.
    23. Louie Rivers & Tamara Dempsey & Jade Mitchell & Carole Gibbs, 2015. "Environmental Regulation and Enforcement: Structures, Processes and the Use of Data for Fraud Detection," Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management (JEAPM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 17(04), pages 1-29, December.
    24. Carrieri, V.; & Principe, F.;, 2018. "WHO and for how long? An empirical analysis of the consumers’ response to red meat warning," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 18/08, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Food safety Mercury Advisory Public health Health information;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • 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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