Can Economists Speak for Farmed Animals? A Review.

Journal of Animal Ethics, 2013

Volume 3, number 2, pages 188-194.

Pre-publication version

This essay reviews:

F. Baily Norwood and Jayson L. Lusk, Compassion, By the Pound: The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 409 + xiv. Hardback, $45.00. ISBN: 978-0-19-955116-3.


Compassion, By the Pound is an excellent volume on the economics of animal agriculture. The authors summarize the history, science, and methods of modern agriculture and animal welfare, make some contributions to the practice of cost-benefit analysis, and engage in a ground-breaking study of consumer preferences for more ethically produced animal products. Undergirding their economic analysis, however, is an inadequate engagement with animal ethics and economic ethics. This review highlights the strengths of this book and then considers three problems with the authors’ implicit ethical framework. This book highlights both the value, and the difficulty, of using standard economic methods to contribute to the field of animal ethics.