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

Neel Ocean and Peter Howley

Abstract

We presented six novel farming vignettes to UK farmers that describe trade-offs between pecuniary and non-pecuniary 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 does exist, farmers seem willing to trade happiness for pecuniary benefits. Our results also suggest that farmers often trade pecuniary gains for non-pecuniary benefits. The utility derived from non-pecuniary benefits may help to explain farmer behaviours such as unsubsidised environmental improvements, and reluctance to adopt efficiency-enhancing technologies.

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