Animals and Social Welfare

101 Pages Posted: 20 May 2022

See all articles by Romain Espinosa

Romain Espinosa

CIRED, International Research Center on Environment & Development, France

Date Written: May 18, 2022


Cost-benefit analysis lacks the appropriate tools to economically value animal well-being. I propose an easily-implementable framework to evaluate the social gains from policies regarding animals. The model considers both the welfare of animals and the utility that humans derive from animal well-being. The gains in animal welfare are estimated by considering the violations of the animals’ fundamental freedoms weighted for each species. I apply this framework to twenty policy proposals targeting wild, domestic, farmed, and laboratory animals. Although the policies benefit from widespread popular support in France (the annual willingnesses-to-pay range between 15 and 39 Euros per person per year), I show that they have very heterogeneous impacts on animal welfare (valued at between 0.013 and 3,618 Euros per person per year). I further show that humans’ altruistic concerns for animals are a poor predictor of the effective impact of policies on animal welfare. I conclude that it is essential to value animal welfare per se in cost-benefit analyses in order to determine the set of welfare-increasing policies.

Keywords: Social welfare, animals, animal welfare, human welfare, public policies, utility potentials, willingness-to-pay, contingent valuation methods

JEL Classification: I38, Z00 (animal welfare), Q51

Suggested Citation

Espinosa, Romain, Animals and Social Welfare (May 18, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Romain Espinosa (Contact Author)

CIRED, International Research Center on Environment & Development, France ( email )

Campus du Jardin Tropical
45 bis avenue de la Belle Gabrielle
F94736 Nogent sur Marne Cedex

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