Environmental Risks to Children's Health: Parents' Risk Beliefs, Protective Behavior, and Willingness to Pay

EPA Grant Number: R828717
Title: Environmental Risks to Children's Health: Parents' Risk Beliefs, Protective Behavior, and Willingness to Pay
Investigators: Dickie, Mark , Gerking, Shelby
Institution: University of Southern Mississippi , University of Wyoming
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2003
Project Amount: $347,373
RFA: Valuation of Children's Health Effects (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Children's Health , Health , Economics and Decision Sciences


This research extends prior work on formation of risk beliefs and willingness to pay to avoid skin cancer by analyzing decisions parents make concerning their own health, the health of their children, and the health of others outside their immediate family. The research will address five questions: (1) What determines parents' (ex ante) subjective beliefs about their own and their children's risk of contracting skin cancer?; (2) What protective actions do adults take to reduce risks of skin cancer to themselves and to their children?; (3) How much are parents willing to pay (ex ante) to reduce their own and their children's risk of contracting skin cancer?; (4) Are parents willing to pay an additional sum to protect the world's population from skin cancer?; and (5) How do income, family structure and composition, parental education, and other characteristics affect willingness to pay, risk beliefs, and risk-related behaviors?


Survey data would be collected according to a unified theoretical framework on perceived risks, protective action, valuation, and altruism. Surveys would be administered by computer to samples drawn from the Hattiesburg, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area, and the Laramie, Wyoming area. The two surveys would be conducted in different years so that any new research questions arising from analysis of the first sample could be investigated in the second. Equations would be econometrically estimated showing determinants of risk-related behaviors (e.g., use of sunscreen and time spent outdoors), risk beliefs, and preferences for risk reduction. The equations would identify differences in how parents view risk to themselves versus risks to children and would be used to develop an indifference map that shows how parents trade off their health against that of their children.

Expected Results:

The proposed research will provide direct evidence on both the absolute and relative valuation of child and adult health, on the formation of parental beliefs about risks to their own and their children's health, and on the determinants of risk-related behavior. The current lack of evidence on these issues impedes evaluation and assessment of environmental policies affecting adults and children. By improving understanding of health risk and valuation, the project will promote more cost-effective allocation of federal and state environmental protection resources.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 8 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

morbidity valuation, nonmarket valuation, benefit estimation., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, Geographic Area, air toxics, State, Economics, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Children's Health, genetic susceptability, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Social Science, risk assessment, sensitive populations, benefits transfer, level of education, WY, stratospheric ozone, environmental risks, measuring childhood exposure, behavioral assessment, children's health values, children, environmental values, survey, Mississippi (MS), family values, willingness to pay (WTP), adult valuation of children's health, modeling parental behavior, morbidity valuation, Wyoming, environmental health hazard, environmental effects, skin cancer, willingness to pay, toxics

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002
  • Final