International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics > Vol 14 > Issue 1

Directly Valuing Animal Welfare in (Environmental) Economics

Alexis Carlier, Toulouse School of Economics, University Toulouse Capitole, France, Nicolas Treich, Toulouse School of Economics, University Toulouse Capitole and INRAE, France,
Suggested Citation
Alexis Carlier and Nicolas Treich (2020), "Directly Valuing Animal Welfare in (Environmental) Economics", International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 14: No. 1, pp 113-152.

Publication Date: 07 Apr 2020
© 2020 A. Carlier and N. Treich
Environmental economics,  Public economics,  Collective action
JEL Codes: Q51Q18I30Z00
Animal welfareenvironmental economicsagricultural economicseconomic valuationspeciesismethicssentienceeffective altruism


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. The Moral Consideration of Animals in Philosophy 
3. Animals in this World 
4. Animals in Economics 
5. Directly Valuing Animals in Economics 
6. Conclusion 


Research in economics is anthropocentric. It only cares about the welfare of humans and usually does not concern itself with animals. When it does, animals are treated as resources, biodiversity, or food. That is, animals only have instrumental value for humans. Yet, unlike water, trees, or vegetables, and like humans, most animals have a brain and a nervous system. They can feel pain and pleasure and many argue that their welfare should matter. Some economic studies value animal welfare, but only indirectly through humans' altruistic valuation. This overall position of economics is inconsistent with the utilitarian tradition and can be qualified as speciesist. We suggest that economics should directly value the welfare of sentient animals, at least sometimes. We briefly discuss some possible implications and challenges for (environmental) economics.