Trading risk for ambiguity: Production versus health under pesticide application

Daniel C. Voica, Troy G. Schmitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Pesticide use reduces the variation in crop yields at the expense of potentially negative consequences to farmers and their family members. This article examines the trade-off between decreasing production risk and increasing health ambiguity because of pesticide use. We find that under ambiguity, pesticide application decreases the variation in health outcomes, whereas under risk, it decreases the expected value of health outcomes. Health insurance protects health from the pesticide damage but not from the ambiguity effect of pesticide application, and the optimal choice of pesticide application does not depend on the farmer's health preferences over risk or ambiguity. However, in the absence of health insurance, ambiguity can increase or decrease the optimal choice of pesticide compared to the risk case. This suggests that public policies around pesticide usage should be designed to reflect and account for the multitude of behavioral responses in the presence of ambiguity and risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1327-1342
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • ambiguity
  • chlorpyrifos
  • glyphosate
  • health
  • pesticide
  • producers
  • roundup
  • uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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