2010 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of the cooperative effort between Brandeis University and the ARS Mosquito and Fly Research Unit (MFRU) is to demonstrate the public health importance and socio-economic benefits of the area-wide control of the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Economists from Brandeis University in Massachusetts will guide and direct the studies of the benefits of the area-wide program and have primary responsibility for the economic analyses. Together, these two institutions will utilize their expertise and human resources to collaborate and focus on a mosquito species that causes severe problems for residents of many areas of the U.S.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Brandeis researchers will collect and analyze data related to costs and economic outcomes over the course of the project. They will collect data directly about the publicly financed cost of vector control by interviewing government and project officials and reviewing budgets and other documents. They will manage collection of data from households through community surveys. Finally, they will analyze all data needed for performing economic analyses. Brandeis will implement two rounds of a household (community) telephone survey using random digit dialing about household expenditures related to mosquito control and outdoor activities that may be impacted by the Asian Tiger mosquito.
Research relates to inhouse objective 2: demonstrate the public health importance and socio-economic benefits of area-wide mosquito control.
In phase 1 of household survey, 1,350 households were randomly chosen from residential lists and 450 (33%) responded to first phase of knowledge, attitude and behavior (KAB) survey. When asked to what extent mosquitoes prevented respondents from enjoying outdoor activities, it was striking that almost two thirds (64%) of respondents felt that mosquitoes prevented enjoyment of outdoor activities. 37% of respondents answered that they were “very much” and 27% “somewhat” prevented from enjoying these activities. In addition, 21% were prevented “a little bit,” while only 15% indicated that they were “not at all” impacted. There were no significant differences in these rates between Mercer and Monmouth Counties.
In phase 2 of the household survey, the survey instrument was modified to include 11 behavior items covered in educational campaign. The second phase of the KAB survey employed a mixed sample frame: it invited households who responded to the first phase to participate again and it randomly selected 1,050 new households to enlarge the total sample size to 1,500. A follow-up reminder letter with a duplicate copy of the survey was sent to 863 non-responding households. The final phase 2 response rate was 37% (549), noticeably higher than the 22% rate for phase 1. To validate data entry, 55 (10%) of the questionnaires were entered twice. Data entry was completed in June 2010.
To analyze phase 1 of the 2008 willingness to pay study, we randomly selected 197 households from residential lists of potential subjects for this study. Eventually, 43 individuals were reached, responded, and provided complete data for analysis. Interviews were conducted in English (82%) or Spanish (18%). The mean annual income in respondents’ census blocks (± standard deviation) based on the U.S. Census was $51,414 (± $9,431).
Willingness to make payments to control urban mosquitoes was endorsed by 44% of respondents. Of these, 89% would accept higher taxes while 11% would only make regular charitable contributions. The mean willingness to pay (¿ standard error) was $0.38¿0.13 per person per month (pppm). Positive willingness-to-pay responses ranged from $0.05 to $5.00 with a median of $0.50 pppm. The results implied that residents would support an additional $4.6 million ($4.60 per capita) annually in county taxes (a 154% increase from the current budget) to support a highly effective mosquito control program. While the mean willingness to pay was higher in Mercer County ($6.40 per capita) than Monmouth ($3.50 per capita), this difference was not statistically significant. Of those not willing to pay, 71% explained that they could not afford additional regular payments.
The economic cost analysis for Monmouth and Mercer Counties is partially complete. The economic costs for the educational component in 2008 and 2009 are complete. For overall costs, a cost questionnaire was developed and will soon be completed.
Progress was monitored via e-mail, telephone calls, meetings, and annual reports to discuss the research project.