Do People Actually Pursue Risk Elimination in Environmental Risk Management?
This study examines whether people pursue the total elimination of environmental risks even if the risk reduction occurs incrementally and requires steadily increasing amounts of money to achieve. Participants' willingness to pay (WTP) was measured for various levels of reduction in the risk of cancer caused by dioxin. Results showed that: (1) people were willing to pay more for an initial reduction in risk than for subsequent reductions, (2) the WTP for the final risk decrement—which achieved total risk elimination—was higher than the WTP for either of the two previous decrements but barely half of that for the first reduction, and (3) the manner in which the questions were framed did not affect participants' responses. These results suggest that the public will not always try to pursue perfect safety at the cost of a large sum of money, but rather may seek a decreasing expenditure as the risk level is reduced.