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Meat as a bad habit: A case for positive feedback in consumption preferences leading to lock-in

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  • Joshua Frank
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    The concepts of path dependence and lock-in have received growing acceptance but have generally been thought of as driven by positive feedback on the supply side of the economy. A case through example is made here of how endogenous preferences positive feedback in utility from consumption, social considerations, and institutional considerations can all lead to path dependence and the persistence of suboptimal consumption choices. The case here specifically relates to meat consumption and utilizes behavioral, institutional, as well as neoclassical approaches to justify the conclusion. It is argued that increased meat consumption, which at one time may have had positive value, has developed increasingly negative consequences both at the individual and social level. Negative impacts include health consequences, low production efficiency, and environmental damage, among others. Nevertheless, preferences for meat are maintained by multiple factors including historical dependence of tastes, socially established meanings of consumption choices, and institutional inertia.

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Social Economy.

    Volume (Year): 65 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 319-348

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:65:y:2007:i:3:p:319-348
    DOI: 10.1080/00346760701635833
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