Which Benefits Would Make Farmers Happier, and Which Would They Choose?

Neel Ocean and Peter Howley


We presented six novel farming vignettes to U.K. farmers that describe trade-offs between pecuniary and nonpecuniary benefits. What farmers would choose corresponds with what they think would make them happier, which supports the use of subjective well-being as a proxy for decision utility in agricultural research. Where a disparity between choice and well-being exists, farmers seem willing to trade happiness for pecuniary benefits. Our results also suggest that farmers often trade pecuniary gains for nonpecuniary benefits. The utility derived from nonpecuniary benefits may help explain farmer behaviors, such as unsubsidized environmental improvements and reluctance to adopt efficiency-enhancing technologies.

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