The Economic Standing of Animals

28 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2021 Last revised: 18 Oct 2023

See all articles by Jim Leitzel

Jim Leitzel

University of Chicago

Sabina Shaikh

University of Chicago - Program on Global Environment

Date Written: July 22, 2021


Should nonhuman animals possess cost-benefit analysis (CBA) standing, and if so, to what extent? A lack of standing for animals does not mean that their interests are ignored; rather, it implies that their interests are only accounted for to the extent that those with standing – humans – feel some regard for animal welfare.

This paper addresses farm animal policy in the United States and looks at how CBAs are altered as animal interests range from “no standing” to “human-equivalent” standing. Even with no standing for animals, the degree of animal welfare offered by current animal agricultural practices is inefficiently low: human preferences for animal welfare are less than fully reflected in the economic and political marketplaces. Policies that counter existing shortcomings in the markets for animal welfare could be paired with transparency measures that would help ensure that consumers and voters are better informed about the conditions under which farmed animals are raised. Uncertainty concerning the appropriate degree of animal standing counsels for the avoidance of policies that would be highly undesirable if the proper extent of standing turns out to be significantly smaller or larger than expected.

Keywords: animals, animal welfare, meat taxes, cost-benefit analysis, standing

JEL Classification: D61, H23, I30, N50, Q18

Suggested Citation

Leitzel, Jim and Shaikh, Sabina, The Economic Standing of Animals (July 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Jim Leitzel (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-8555 (Phone)

Sabina Shaikh

University of Chicago - Program on Global Environment ( email )

United States

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