Monetizing Animal Welfare Impacts for Benefit–Cost Analysis

Monetizing Animal Welfare Impacts for Benefit–Cost Analysis

Monetizing Animal Welfare Impacts for Benefit–Cost Analysis

Mark Budolfson, Romain Espinosa, Bob Fischer, Nicolas Treich

Abstract

Animal welfare is often ignored in decision-making, despite widespread agreement about its importance. This is partly because of a lack of quantitative methods to assess the impacts of policies on humans and nonhumans alike on a common scale. At the same time, recent work in economics, philosophy, and animal welfare science has made progress on the fundamental theoretical challenge of estimating the well-being potential of different species on a single scale. By combining these estimates of each species’ well-being potential with assessments of how various policies impact the quality of life for these species, along with the number of animals affected, we can arrive at a framework for estimating the impact of policies on animal health and well-being. This framework allows for a quantifiable comparison between policies affecting humans and animals. For instance, it enables us to compare human QALYs to animal QALYs tailored to specific species. Hence, the intrinsic value of animal welfare impacts of policies can be monetized on the same scale as market and non-market impact for humans, facilitating benefit–cost analysis. Many challenges remain though, including issues of population ethics, political feasibility, and new complexities in addressing equity and uncertainty.

Citation: Budolfson M, Espinosa R, Fischer B, Treich N. (2024) Monetizing Animal Welfare Impacts for Benefit–Cost Analysis. Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis

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