ItemIs a Non-Representative Convenience Sample Good Enough? Insights from an Economic Experiment(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2022-11-19) Sean F. Ellis; Olesya M. Savchenko; Kent D. MesserKeywords: Non-representative convenience sampling, field experiments, online recruitment, representative sampling ItemAre Consumers Really Willing to Pay More for Local Foods? A Field Experiment(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2022-11-08) Kelly A. Davidson; Badri Khanal; Kent D. MesserHave local food promotion programs convinced consumers to pay more for local food? Studies to date, which have mostly relied on hypothetical stated preference surveys, have shown that local premiums exist but premiums vary by product and geographic identity. This study reports results from a field experiment involving 1,050 adult consumers to reveal consumers’ willingness to pay premiums for “locally produced” oysters and mushrooms. Despite strong statistical power, this study reveals no positive effect of the local label on consumer willingness to pay. These null results have important implications for state and federal agencies that promote often-generic local labeling campaigns. ItemIt’s All Relative: Consistent Marginal Effects with Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept Framing in Experimental Auctions*(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2022) Tongzhe Li; Laura A. Paul; Kent D. Messer; Harry M. KaiserWhen eliciting consumer preferences for controversial products—an increasing number of which exist due to increasing demographic diversity and political polarization—conventional assumptions that all individuals derive positive marginal utility from consumption are challenged. It is relatively easy to adjust hypothetical stated preference questionnaires to include negative willingness to pay (WTP), but few studies on controversial products investigate how individuals behave using incentive-compatible revealed preference techniques. Using a framed field experiment with 292 adult subjects, we fill this gap by comparing the differences and similarities between a set of results that arise from the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (BDM) mechanism between WTP versus willingness to accept (WTA) elicitation methods. This study has two main findings. First, in economic experiments eliciting preferences for controversial products, neither the WTP nor the WTA method fully discovers the true valuation range across all participants. Second, despite framing effects that give rise to different bid distributions, relative revealed preferences for the examined products are consistent under various interventions, indicating that WTP and WTA estimates have consistent policy implications. ItemEncouraging pro-environmental behavior: Do testimonials by experts work?(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2022-09-30) Olesya M. Savchenko; Leah H. Palm-Forster; Lusi Xie; Rubait Rahman; Kent D. MesserUsing behavioral nudges to motivate pro-environmental behavior appeals to program administrators seeking cost-effective ways to increase adoption of environmental practices. However, not all nudges are effective, and reporting when nudges fail is as important as documenting their successes. We used a framed field experiment with 308 adults from the Mid-Atlantic to test the effectiveness of an expert testimonial in encouraging adoption of native plants in residential settings. Though studies have found testimonials to be effective in other contexts, we find that the video testimonial had no effect on residents’ willingness to pay for native plants. Our analysis also shows that consumers who are younger, have higher incomes, and use other environmentally friendly practices on their lawns are more likely than other consumers to purchase native plants. ItemBack to the Source: Consumer Behavior in Response to Different Sources of Recycled Irrigation Water(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2022-06-12) Messer, Kent D.; Ellis, Sean F.; Kecinski, Maik; Ganguly, DiyaUsing recycled water to irrigate agricultural products can be an effective solution to water scarcity. However, a better understanding of how society evaluates different sources of recycled water provides insights into potential demand-side barriers to adoption of these solutions. This paper implements a field economic experiment conducted in the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States that evaluates consumers’ willingness-to-pay for three sources of recycled irrigation water: “gray”, “black”, and “produced”. Our analysis indicates that people consider certain sources of recycled water more acceptable for irrigating produce than others. Recycled gray water is preferred to recycled-produced water, and both are preferred to recycled black water. We also explore how adult consumers respond to scientific information about the benefits and risks of using recycled irrigation water, and find that it does not mitigate consumers’ concerns. ItemTransaction costs, competitiveness, and participation in reverse auctions: Evidence from a laboratory experiment(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2021-11) Li, Tongzhe; Palm-Forster, Leah H.; Bhuiyanmishu, SiddikaAbstract Reverse auctions are designed to cost-effectively allocate agri-environmental program funds that support the adoption of best management practices. However, transaction costs and concerns about bid acceptance can limit the performance of reverse auctions, particularly for more complex working lands programs. We use a laboratory experiment to examine how various levels of transaction costs and budgets influence participation and bidding behavior in discriminatory-price reverse auctions. Consistent with economic theory, our experimental results show that transaction costs can limit auction participation and reduce program cost-effectiveness. The negative effect of transaction costs on participation is particularly amplified when the budget level is low, and therefore, the auction is more competitive. However, increased competition also places downward pressure on rent-seeking, which allows scarce program funds to support more projects. Using the results of our experiment, we design a simulation to investigate whether subsidies that offset participants’ transaction costs could increase program cost-effectiveness under various conditions. Our findings highlight the importance of considering how transaction costs and subsidizing strategies affect auction performance when implementing reverse auctions. Key words: agri-environmental policy, conservation tender, participation rate, payment for environmental services, reverse auction, transaction costs. JEL Codes: C90, D44, Q24, Q28 ItemReport for the 2020 Poultry Litter Nutrient Distribution Producer Survey(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2021-03; updated 2021-10) Authors: Rachel King, Graduate student in Agricultural and Resource Economics, Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, firstname.lastname@example.org Leah H. Palm-Forster, Associate Professor, Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, email@example.com Amy L. Shober, Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, firstname.lastname@example.org Mark S. Reiter, Director of the Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center and Associate Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech email@example.comAbstract: The 2020 Poultry Litter Nutrient Distribution Producer Survey was distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA NASS) in Spring 2020. This survey is part of a USDA-funded Critical Agricultural Research and Extension study titled, "Innovative Manure Management Strategies to Promote Phosphorus Balance and Sustain Agriculture on the Delmarva Peninsula." The goals of this study are to: 1) Better utilize poultry litter nutrients as a fertilizer for crop production; and 2) Improve the distribution of poultry litter across the Delmarva and throughout grain producing regions of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Results from this study will benefit farmers and protect natural resources. To learn more about poultry litter or poultry litter co-products, please visit the following link to read Virginia Cooperative Extension publication SPES-187NP: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/spes/spes-187/SPES-187.pdf ItemLatent Dirichlet Allocation and Predatory Pricing Online Data(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2021-02-24) Xu, Xiaotian; Ding, ShanshanIn this paper, we study Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA; Blei et al., 2012) for topic modeling of Amazon unfair pricing data during Covid-19. A topic model is designed to capture topics relating to words in text document or corpus. LDA is a generative probabilistic model with helping to collect topics from discrete data, like text & corpora. It is also known as a three-level hierarchical Bayesian model, where each item of the collection is modeled as a nite mixture over an underlying set of topics. For each topic, it is modeled as an in nite mixture on an underlying set of basic topic probabilities in turn. We conduct analy- sis of unfair pricing data by sellers from Amazon during the Covid-19 period using LDA. Speci cally, we perform topic modeling and generate topics under Amazon product description. Our goal is to capture information and topics on what kind of surgical masks and products are in unfair pricing during Covid- 19. Finally, we conclude that N95 is the most unfairly priced product under the topic modeling. By generating graphical illustrations with the Python pyL- DAvis package, we are able to summarize and provide more detailed information based on Predatory Pricing Online model. ItemConsumer Perceptions After Long Term Use or Alternative Irrigation Water: An Israeli Field Experiment(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2020-03) Ellis, S.F.; Kecinski, Maik; Messer, Kent D.; Lipchin, CliveThis study provides the first revealed preference estimates of Israeli’s willingness-to-pay for produce irrigated with alternative water. It also investigates how exposure to information about the benefits and risks of recycled water affects these preferences. Results show that Israeli’s prefer produce irrigated with conventional water over any type of alternative water, and that preferences for alternative water varies by type. Exposure to information about the risks of recycled water increases consumers’ willingness-to-pay for produce irrigated with desalinated water. These results indicate there may be limits to how high consumer demand for alternative water can rise even after long term implementation. ItemMotorists’ willingness to drive through flooded roads: Evidence from a stated preference experiment(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2020-06) Ahsanuzzaman; Messer, Kent D.We conduct a stated-preference choice experiment to reveal motorists’ driving-related behavioral responses to different types of signs indicating that the road is flooded and travel costs associated with avoidance of the flooded road. We use three flood-indicating visualization treatments and control group to identify the effects of particular road signs and identify associations between drivers’ behavior and their demographic characteristics and the cost (time) of taking an alternate route. Using responses from 714 adult participants, we estimate willingness to drive additional minutes to avoid flooded roads using a random utility framework. Our results suggest that individuals are more likely to avoid flooded roads when shown flood-indicating road signs that do not indicate the exact depth of the water and signs that indicate that the water is relatively deep (more than 12 inches). We further find that individuals tend to persist in their initial choices. They often make risky choices when high risk indicating information is presented at the beginning of the decision-making process. ItemMitigating Stigma Associated with Recycled Water: Aquifer Recharge and Trophic Levels(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2020-06) Ellis, S.F.; Savchenko, Olesya M.; Messer, Kent D.Stigmatization of water and food products can constrain markets and prevent the implementation of scientifically safe solutions to environmental problems, such as water scarcity. Recycled water can be a cost-effective, dependable, and safe solution to water shortages, however, consumers generally either require a large reduction in price to purchase and eat products made with recycled water or reject such products outright. If emerging sustainable agricultural technologies, such as recycled water are to be used to address growing water shortages worldwide, policymakers and industry stakeholders must identify effective strategies for mitigating stigma. Using field experiments involving 1,420 adult participants, we test the effectiveness of two stigma-mitigating techniques. We also successfully demonstrate a novel twist to the collection of representative samples in non-hypothetical experimental settings and compare the results to a more traditional field experiment that recruited participants at a large public gathering. The analysis of these different samples suggests a common finding: passing recycled water through a natural barrier, such as an aquifer, removes the stigma consumers would otherwise attach to it. We also find that the trophic level an organism occupies in the food chain influences stigmatizing behavior. The greater the steps in the food chain between an organism and the use of recycled water, the less it is stigmatized. These results have important implications for efforts to promote large-scale potable and non-potable recycled water projects and the use of recycled water in the agricultural industry. ItemTitanic Machine Learning Study from Disaster(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2020-05) Cao, Emma Yiqin; Xie, Weitao; Dong, Chunzhi; Qiu, JingMachine learning plays an important role in the data science field nowadays. They can be used for classification problems. In this project, we are interested in understanding what kinds of people were more likely to survive the sinking of Titanic using different machine learning methods. Different predictors of passenger information were provided, and the survival chance of different passengers was predicted based on their covariates using 5 different machine learning methods including Conventional Logistic Regression, Random Forest, K-Nearest Neighbor, Support Vector Machine and Gradient Boosting. Grid Search Cross-validation was used for calibrating the prediction accuracy of different methods. The SVM model performs the best for our data with nine predictors and the prediction accuracy is about 83%. The Random Forest model performs the best for our data with six predictors and the prediction accuracy is also about 83%. We used Python for the whole analysis including cleaning the data, visualization, validation, and modeling. ItemIs there a potential market for seaweed? A framed field experiment on consumer acceptance(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2019-12) Li, Tongzhe; Ahsanuzzaman; Messer, Kent D.Novel foods, such as seaweed, often meet resistance in consumer markets even though their cultivation can largely benefit the environment. Therefore, research in consumer acceptance is needed before launching a novel food product into the market. We use a framed field experiment to investigate U.S. consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for three seaweed products – seaweed salad, kelp noodles, and a seaweed snack. The results suggest that there is a potential market for seaweed food products in the United States as 35% of participants chose to purchase at least one seaweed product. Demographic variables matter in consumers’ choices. For instance, we found a negative WTP premium for female shoppers and primary household shoppers and a positive WTP premium for individuals who had a higher level of education and who were interested in improving the healthfulness of their diets. ItemA Neuroeconomic Investigation of Disgust in Food Purchasing Decisions(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2019-12) Ellis, Sean F.; Kecinski, Maik; Messer, Kent D.; Lusk, Jayson L.Dealing with large-scale societal problems such as water scarcity often requires changes in behavior that consumers resist. Some sustainable, cost-effective, and safe solutions are even rejected because of a psychological response of disgust, such as food produced with recycled water to supplement traditional water supplies and crickets as a replacement for water-intensive proteins like beef. This study, involving 51 adult participants, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to explore consumers neural responses to these types of food and the role price plays in their decisions. A video that promotes the use of recycled water was also tested to determine whether consumers’ aversion can be ameliorated. The results show activation in the insular cortex when presented with images of food produced with recycled water or crickets, indicating these foods are associated with feelings of disgust. After the treatment video, neural activity did not change in the insular cortex, however, respondent’s decisions about food produced with recycled water did. Together, these findings suggest disgust is a part of the decision process, that it lingers and can be difficult to mitigate, but that behavioral interventions have the potential to overcome it. ItemMitigating Stigma Associated with Recycled Water: Aquifer Recharge and Trophic Levels(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2019-12) Ellis, Sean F.; Savchenko, Olesya; Messer, Kent D.Stigmatization of water and food products can constrain markets and prevent the implementation of scientifically safe solutions to environmental problems, such as water scarcity. Recycled water can be a cost-effective, dependable, and safe solution to water shortages, however, consumers generally either require a large reduction in price to purchase and eat products made with recycled water or reject such products outright. If emerging agricultural technologies, such as recycled water are to be used to address growing water shortages worldwide, policymakers and industry stakeholders must identify effective strategies for mitigating stigma. Using a field experiment involving 314 adult participants, we test the effectiveness of two stigma-mitigating techniques that have not previously been explored. Our analysis suggests that passing recycled water through a natural barrier, such as an aquifer, removes the stigma consumers would otherwise attach to it. We also find that the trophic level an organism occupies in the food chain influences stigmatizing behavior. The greater the steps in the food chain between an organism and the use of recycled water, the less it is stigmatized. A plant crop used for food possesses the same qualities and contagions as the water with which it is irrigated but a food animal that eats that crop does not, or at least not to the same extent. These results have important implications for efforts to promote large-scale potable and non-potable recycled water projects and the use of recycled water in the agricultural industry. ItemChildren’s vulnerability to natural disasters: Evidence from natural experiments in Bangladesh(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2019-12) Ahsanuzzaman; Islan, Muhammad Q.Both developed and developing countries face natural disasters, but it is the poor areas in developing countries, particularly women and children, that are most affected by those disasters in terms of loss of lives and livelihoods. If the predictions climate change models bear out, Bangladesh could be affected by frequent and severe natural disasters such as the rise in sea level leading to floods, cyclones, etc. Natural disasters adversely affect employment opportunities and earnings of the most vulnerable households. Loss of employment and earnings can affect the nutritional intake of children in natural disaster affected regions. Since nutritional status in the early age of 0-60 months of a child determines the cognitive ability and other developments, hindrances that affect nutritional supply and result in low nutritional intake can have adverse lifetime effects on children affected by such events. Consequently, the frequency and severity of natural disasters due to climate change have intergenerational effects. In this study, we examine the effects of natural disasters – specifically, cyclones Sidr and Aila - on children’s nutritional status in Bangladesh. We estimate the nutritional status of children below 60-months age who had been exposed to those extreme events in November 2007 and May 2009. Results show that children who had been exposed to such an extreme climate events from sometime in utero to newborn stages suffer significant reduction in height for age Z score and are more likely to be stunted and underweight. This is particularly important as among other nutritional outcome indicators, height for age Z score is regarded as a measure of the long-term consequence of nutritional intake. Our findings suggest that even a single extreme event such as super cyclone Sidr can exert long term detrimental effects to hinder development of children of a generation exposed to such disasters. ItemBehavioral and experimental agri-environmental research: methodological challenges, literature gaps, and recommendations(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2019-12) Palm-Forster, Leah; Ferraro, Paul J.; Janusch, Nicholas; Vossler, Christian A.; Messer, Kent D.Insights from behavioral and experimental economics research can inform the design of evidence-based, cost-effective agri-environmental programs that mitigate environmental damages and promote the supply of environmental benefits from agricultural landscapes. To enhance future research on agri-environmental program design and to increase the speed at which credible scientific knowledge is accumulated, we highlight methodological challenges, identify important gaps in the existing literature, and make key recommendations for both researchers and those evaluating research. We first report on four key methodological challenges – underpowered designs, multiple hypothesis testing, interpretation issues, and choosing appropriate econometric methods – and suggest strategies to overcome these challenges. Specifically, we emphasize the need for more detailed planning during the experimental design stage, including power analyses and publishing a pre-analysis plan. Greater use of replication studies and meta-analyses will also help address these challenges and strengthen the quality of the evidence base. In the second part of this paper, we discuss how insights from behavioral and experimental economics can be applied to improve the design of agri-environmental programs. We summarize key insights using the MINDSPACE framework, which categorizes nine behavioral effects that influence decision-making (messenger, incentives, norms, defaults, salience, priming, affect, commitment, and ego), and we highlight recent research that tests these effects in agri-environmental contexts. We also propose a framework for prioritizing policy-relevant research in this domain. ItemDrinking Water and Environmental Justice in Post-Flint America: How Water Tests Increase Public Welfare(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2019-10-01) Ritchie, Kaitlynn; Maik, Kecinski; Kent D., MesserIn 2016, Flint, Michigan declared a State of Emergency due to high levels of lead in the city’s drinking water. Flint is predominantly black or African-American and the average income is significantly below the U.S. average. Extensive media coverage about these events may have adversely affected water quality perceptions in similarly disadvantaged communities but whose public drinking water systems have no outstanding violations. We conducted experiments in such a community to explore how individuals perceive their own drinking water and tests the effectiveness of two water quality treatments (water test kit and professional laboratory test). After collecting water samples from each participants home, these experiments revealed that the average willingness-to-accept to drink three ounces of their own water was $9.57. After treatment, their average willingness-to-accept was as low as $2.88. We show that inexpensive water test kits can be leveraged to rebuild trust in public water systems and enhance the welfare of disadvantaged communities. ItemIs this Food “Local?” Evidence from a Framed Field Experiment(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2019-04) Li, Tongzhe; Ahsanuzzaman; Messer, KentIn the marketplace, consumers often see foods labeled as “local.” But laws regarding what foods can be labeled as local vary, and how consumers perceive the definition of such labels has received little attention. To study this question, we designed a framed field experiment that took advantage of the small distances in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and oyster harvesting locations. In this novel study, consumers were presented with purchase decisions for a food that could be accurately characterized by multiple definitions of the term local, some definitions based on mileage and others on political boundaries. We analyze responses from 374 adult consumers to estimate willingness to pay (WTP) for oysters labeled as local using these various definitions. We find that consumers are responsive to the label definitions. Consumers are less willing to pay for local oysters defined as harvested within 400 miles (the USDA definition of a local food) than for local oysters harvested within 100 miles and 25 miles. Consumers’ WTP increases when local is defined as being harvested in a region associated with the same state of the purchase decision than when harvested in an adjacent state. Interestingly, the highest WTP is when no specific definition of local is provided to consumers. ItemAg-E MINDSPACE Effect Size Table(Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE., 2019-03) Palm-Forster, Leah, H.; Ferraro, Paul J.; Janusch, Nicholas; Vossler, Christian A.; Messer, Kent D.In our recent paper in Environmental & Resource Economics, we recommend that authors report standardized effect sizes when reporting the results of experimental economics studies (Palm-Forster et al., forthcoming). Standardized effect sizes allow readers to compare the magnitudes of estimated treatment effects across different treatments and outcomes. Researchers can also use published effect sizes as priors when conducting ex-ante power analyses. We present a table of standardized effect sizes reported in experimental economics papers that analyze agri-environmental (Ag-E) issues (the table can be found at https://osf.io/cf259/). We use Dolan et al.’s (2012) MINDSPACE framework to classify behavioral nudges into nine categories, all of which can influence the behavior of agricultural producers: messengers, incentives, norms, defaults, salience, priming, affect, commitment, and ego. We refer readers to our paper for more information about this body of literature (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10640-019-00342-x). Our paper also describes key methodological challenges and recommendations for experimental agri-environmental research.