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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine politically sensitive food safety problems from the viewpoint of political economy. The model was built in order to clarify the behaviors of consumers and politicians, employing the prospect theory and the median voter theorem. Major findings and policy implications in this study are as follows: Firstly, as an outcome of the theoretical analysis, it is suggested that politicians may magnify consumers’ excessive response to food scares. Secondly, several countervailing factors that can mitigate such consumers’ excessive responses may exist. Nevertheless, in Japan, they may be weak or may have become weak and do not mitigate such excessive responses. Finally, it is recommended that politicians’ staff or advisers with scientific expertise should be reinforced. Furthermore, staff or advisers in consumer interest groups should also be reinforced in order to guide consumers with emotional food-borne risk scares in excess toward rational responses.

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