CHILDREN AND THE ENVIRONMENT: VALUING INDIRECT EFFECTS ON A CHILD'S LIFE CHANCES
Jason F. Shogren
Children can face disproportionately greater risk from environmental hazards because they are kids-smaller bodies, faster metabolisms, shorter attentions spans, less knowledge, and fewer resources. Environmental programs that reduce risks to children produce benefits to society that should be adequately represented so policy makers have more information to help them decide which policies are most worthwhile relative to their costs. The open question is just how exactly to value these reductions in risks to children, risks which can arise either from a direct effect on their health, or an indirect effect on their life chances because of illness in other family members or the degradation of the environment. This article focuses on valuing these indirect effects to a child's life chances. The question addressed here is whether standard benefits estimation adequately captures the indirect effects on healthy children. If policy makers presume caregivers make fully informed, rational choices when dealing with adverse family health, indirect effects are already accounted for in revealed and stated values: estimating indirect effects implies double counting of benefits. But if policy makers fear that caregivers face choice without complete information or experience, indirect effects might be understated. Then it becomes constructive to devote resources to explore the importance of these indirect effects. Copyright 2001 Western Economic Association International.
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