Acting on Faith: How Regulatory Trust Affects Demand for Food Safety Attributes in China

As food safety problems continue to proliferate world-wide, numerous studies have investigated consumer willingness to pay for food safety attributes. However, less work has explicitly explored whether the perceived credibility of regulatory bodies affects consumers' purchasing decisions. Indeed, it follows that if consumers do not widely possess the tools and knowledge necessary to evaluate their food safety levels autonomously, neither can they validate regulatory efforts that purport to do so on their behalf. Using original survey data from China, this article finds evidence to suggest that trust plays an important role both in explaining consumers' willingness to pay for certified pork (indeed more important than price) and in shaping consumer confidence in food safety levels more broadly. By employing both willingness to pay (WTP) and willingness to accept (WTA) questions, this article further finds that the relationship between trust and regulatory buy-in is sensitive to framing conditions.

This manuscript is a stand-alone article based on the fourth chapter of my dissertation, The Politics of Food Safety: Detection and Perceptions of Food Safety Problems in China. It is currently under-review.

See here for the manuscript.

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