Submitted to: Environmental & Resource Economics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/15/2005
Publication Date: 4/1/2006
Citation: Archer, D.W., Crocker, T., Shogren, J. 2006. Choosing children's environmental risk. Environmental & Resource Economics. 33:347-369. Interpretive Summary: Environmental hazards such as toxic substances in air, food, or water may affect the health of children. Parents can invest time and money to protect the health of their children by reducing the chances and severity of environmental hazards to which they are exposed. Our analysis shows that, in some cases, promoting a particular type of care may reduce the use of other types of care and lead to a net increase in the risks a child faces. Our analysis also shows the conditions where this type of failure might occur, so this situation might be avoided. This research shows that efforts to protect the health of children can not only lead to spending money ineffectively, but can actually lead to greater child health risks. This research indicates that careful consideration needs to be given to the types of protection that are promoted. This research has direct impact on the decision to spend potentially billions of dollars on child protection and the resulting effects on children's health.
Technical Abstract: A recent model of endogenous risk in agriculture provides a foundation to study a parent's child care decisions when the child could be exposed to an environmental hazard (e.g., toxic substance, foodborne pathogen). The parent invests in child protection and in child insurance to reduce the likelihood of a hazard exposure occurring and to reduce its severity if the exposure is realized. Child protection and child insurance are technologies that capture the parent's joint decisions about the qualities and the quantities of child care used. We supply conditions to sign unambiguously the effects upon a child's hazard exposure of an increase in either 1) the probability a parent will fail to get access to or have command over a technique of exposure prevention or 2) the probability that a technique will be ineffective in preventing exposure. Also, we consider these effects when the parent is unsure what a technique will do to reduce the child's probability of exposure. We conclude that public policies designed to encourage use of a particular technique of child care, if child protection and child insurance are stochastic substitutes, will reduce parental use of other techniques. The net impact of the policy may then be to increase the risk the child suffers.