Using Choice Framing to Improve the Design of Agricultural Subsidy Schemes

Neel Ocean and Peter Howley


Existing agri-environment schemes have suffered from poor uptake and high burden. This article leverages behavioral economics to test choice framing in three hypothetical policy scenarios. Using a randomized survey experiment on U.K. farmers, we find that changing policy framing based on mental accounting and loss aversion can significantly influence agricultural policy–related decision making. Our findings highlight the following considerations for the design of future policy: (1) whether application costs are integrated into or segregated from a subsidy is important, (2) the labeling of agricultural schemes may affect expenditure allocation, and (3) reference points can affect the evaluation of new scheme alternatives.


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