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Water Quality Violations and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from Bottled Water Consumption

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  • Joshua Graff Zivin
  • Matthew Neidell
  • Wolfram Schlenker

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the impact of poor water quality on avoidance behavior by estimating the change in bottled water purchases in response to drinking water violations. Using data from a national grocery chain matched with water quality violations, we find an increase in bottled water sales of 22 percent from violations due to microorganisms and 17 percent from violations due to elements and chemicals. Back-of-the envelope calculations yield costs of avoidance behavior at roughly $60 million for all nationwide violations in 2005, which likely reflects a significant understatement of the total willingness to pay to eliminate violations.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell & Wolfram Schlenker, 2011. "Water Quality Violations and Avoidance Behavior: Evidence from Bottled Water Consumption," NBER Working Papers 16695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16695
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Shimshack, Jay P. & Ward, Michael B. & Beatty, Timothy K.M., 2007. "Mercury advisories: Information, education, and fish consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 158-179, March.
    2. Wolfram Schlenker & Sofia B. Villas-Boas, 2009. "Consumer and Market Responses to Mad Cow Disease," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1140-1152.
    3. Harrington, Winston & Portney, Paul R., 1987. "Valuing the benefits of health and safety regulation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 101-112, July.
    4. Wolfram Schlenker & Sofia B. Villas-Boas, 2009. "Consumer and Market Responses to Mad Cow Disease," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1140-1152.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • 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
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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