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The Department of Environmental Economics and Management

The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Herzl 229, Rehovot 7610001
Fax: 08-9466267

Department Head:
Prof. Ayal Kimhi, Tel: 08-9489376

Head of the teaching program:
Dr. Ohad Raveh, Tel: 08-9489373

Meital Kappach, Tel: 08-9489230


Shirley Hershko, ; Cortese, S. ; Ert, E. ; Anna Aronis, ; Adina Maeir, ; Yehuda Pollak,. Advertising Influences Food Choices of University Students With ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders 2019, online first. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Objective: Previous research in adults with ADHD showed high rates of obesity and unhealthy food choices. There is evidence that contextual cues, for example, advertisements, influence food choices. This study assessed the sensitivity of university students with ADHD to advertised food. Method: University students (N = 457) with and without ADHD participated in a cafeteria field experiment. Food choices were examined in periods of advertising either healthy or unhealthy sandwiches. Results: Students with ADHD (a) chose less healthy food items, (b) were more influenced by advertising, (c) showed the same overall healthy food choices as controls when exposed to healthy advertising. Conclusion: Students with ADHD chose unhealthier foods at the cafeteria but were also more influenced by advertising. Healthy food advertisements raised their healthy food choices. As this population has strong association with unhealthy dietary patterns, it is important to investigate the influence of food cues on their eating habits.
Kagansky, N. ; Knobler, H. ; Stein-Babich, M. ; Voet, H. ; Shalit, A. ; Lindert, J. ; Knobler, H. Y. Holocaust survival and the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in the elderly. Israel Medical Association Journal 2019, 21, 241-245. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Background: Reports of longevity in Holocaust survivors (HS) conflict with excess prevalence of chronic diseases described among them. However, data on their long-term risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are limited. Clinical data on large representative groups of HS who were exposed to severe persecution are also limited. Objectives: To determine the prevalence of CVD and the risk factors in a large cohort of elderly HS compared to elderly individuals who were not exposed to the Holocaust (NHS). Methods: CVD prevalence rates and data on risk factors from the computerized system of the central district of Clalit Health Services, the largest Israeli health maintenance organization in Israel, were evaluated in a retrospective observational study. The study was comprised of 4004 elderly HS who underwent direct severe persecution. They were randomly matched by identification numbers to 4004 elderly NHS. Results: HS were older than NHS and 51% of them were older than 85 years. The prevalence rate of ischemic heart disease (IHD) was significantly higher among HS. HS underwent significantly more cardiac interventions (20% vs. 15.7%, P < 0.05). HS status was an independent risk factor for increased IHD and for more coronary interventions. Conclusions: Despite having a higher prevalence of CVD, a substantial number of HS live long lives. This finding may imply both unique resilience and ability to cope with chronic illness of the survivors as well as adjusted medical services for this population. These findings may help in planning the treatment of other mass trauma survivors. © 2019, Israel Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Yanbykh, R. ; Saraikin, V. ; Lerman, Z. Cooperative tradition in Russia: a revival of agricultural service cooperatives?. Post-Communist Economies 2019, 31, 750-771. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Agricultural cooperatives in Russia have had an uneven evolution: from their initial form of service cooperatives based on classical principles of cooperation in the decades before 1929, they evolved to predominantly production cooperatives during the Soviet era and then back to service cooperatives with the rapid decline in the number and share of production cooperatives after 1992. The number of agricultural cooperatives providing product marketing, input supply, machinery and farm credit services matches the number of production cooperatives as of 2016 but formal membership in service cooperatives is minuscule. Yet, the potential membership in agricultural service cooperatives is conservatively estimated at between 3.8 and 7.5 million rural households, or between 29% and 56% of the rural households in 2017. These numbers represent the pool of small agricultural producers in Russia that are most likely to benefit from cooperation in farm services. More optimistic estimates put the potential number of cooperators at over 90% of all rural households. Examination of possible policy measures for the development of service cooperatives has led to a disturbing conclusion that cooperatives flourish in regions that provide ample budgetary support. No tendencies for significant bottom-up development of cooperatives are observed. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Uzun, V. ; Shagaida, N. ; Lerman, Z. Russian agriculture: Growth and institutional challenges. Land Use Policy 2019, 83, 475-487. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Russian agriculture has shown stable growth since 1999. The food trade balance steadily improves and the share of imported food in retail markets is decreasing due to the government's import substitution policies. Russia has re-emerged on the world arena as a food exporter and now ranks among the leading exporters of wheat and vegetable oil. Agricultural production growth has become export oriented. To continue its growth, Russia's agriculture should emphasize returning unused land to cultivation and adopt new technologies to increase the comparatively low crop and livestock yields. The skewed land distribution and agricultural support system, both strongly biased toward large farms and agroholdings, constrain the development of small farms and prevent their participation in food value chains, negatively impacting on rural development. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Heiman, A. ; Gordon, B. ; Zilberman, D. Food beliefs and food supply chains: The impact of religion and religiosity in Israel. Food Policy 2019, 83, 363 - 369. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper demonstrates that religion and religiosity affect norms, which affect food consumption patterns and production. Heterogeneity and asymmetric information lead to multiple certification channels as well as multiple supply chains. Major supply chains may address multiple constituencies that are secular or less religious. Technological change affects norms and thus the food system. We obtain these results by analyzing the food systems for meat products in Israel where there are three religions – Jews, Muslims, and Christians – and people assign themselves three levels of religiosity – secular, conservative, and orthodox. Israel has multiple Kosher and Halal certifiers and several specialized supermarket chains for orthodox groups. Its main supermarket chains serve secular and some conservative segments. The immigration of secular Jews from Russia led to the proliferation of non-Kosher supply chains and products, and increased consumption of pork. New technologies and higher incomes led to emergence of fast food chains serving orthodox Jews that had previously tended to eat at home.
Elimelech, E. ; Ert, E. ; Ayalon, O. Bridging the gap between self-assessments and measured household food waste: A hybrid valuation approach. Waste Management 2019, 95, 259 - 270. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Great effort is invested in mapping the extent of household food waste and its main determinants. However, food waste valuation remains a challenging task. Valuation methods can be divided roughly into objective measurements that are based on physical waste surveys, and subjective self-assessments that are based on diaries or questionnaires. Self-assessment methods have been more popular than food waste measurement because they are less costly. The goal of this paper is to empirically test whether self-assessments can accurately reflect objective measurement. To answer this question, we implemented a hybrid valuation approach by integrating and comparing three methods: a self-assessment questionnaire, a physical waste survey, and a food expenditure survey. Self-assessments slightly underestimated measured food waste proportion (13.7% vs. 16.3%, respectively). The results also show a positive, yet, not very strong correlation between the measures and the self-assessments of unconsumed and partly consumed avoidable food waste in most food categories. Self-assessments of monetary losses were €42.07 per household per month on average, overestimating calculated losses of €25.74 on average. Our findings question the validity of self-assessments. The current paper demonstrates the questionable nature of the implicit assumption that self-assessment reflects the true level of food waste and suggests a rigorous method for exploring this relation.
Elimelech, E. ; Ert, E. ; Ayalon, O. Exploring the Drivers behind Self-Reported and Measured Food Wastage. Sustainability 2019, 11. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Understanding households’ food waste drivers is crucial for forming a coherent policy to meet the sustainable development goals. However, current studies have documented mixed evidence regarding food waste determinants. Most studies have relied on self-reports, assuming they reflect actual behaviors. This study applies a structural equation model that evaluates both self-reported and measured food wastage, and how they are affected by different households’ attributes, attitudes, and behaviors. As such, it also provides a test for the underlying logic that self-reports are a proxy for actual food waste. Results show that measured food wastage is, at best, weakly correlated with self-reports. Moreover, drivers affecting self-reported and measured food wastage are not necessarily the same. Household size affects only measured food wastage. Source separation behavior negatively affects self-reported and measured food wastage, while environmental attitudes have a negative effect only on self-reports. Meal planning, unplanned shopping, and food purchased have no impact on self-reported and measured food wastage. The relation between self-reported and actual food waste and their drivers are even less understood than we thought. The distinction between self-reports and actual waste is crucial for follow-up research on this subject as well as assessing policy measures.
Perez-Sebastian, F. ; Raveh, O. Federal tax policies, congressional voting and natural resources. Canadian Journal of Economic 2019, 52, 1112-1164. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract Can abundance of natural resources affect legislators' voting behaviour over federal tax policies? We construct a political economy model of a federalized economy with district heterogeneity in natural resource abundance. The model shows that representatives of natural resource-rich districts are more (less) willing to vote in favour of federal tax increases (decreases). This occurs because resource-rich districts are less responsive to federal tax changes due to the immobile nature of their natural resources. We test the model's predictions using data on roll-call votes in the US House of Representatives over the major federal tax bills initiated during the period of 1945–2003, in conjunction with the presence of active giant oil fields in US congressional districts. Our identification strategy rests on plausibly exogenous giant oil field discoveries and exploitation and narrative-based aggregate federal tax shocks that are exogenous to individual congressional districts and legislators. We find that: (i) resource-rich congressional districts are less responsive to changes in federal taxes and (ii) representatives of resource-rich congressional districts are more (less) supportive of federal tax increases (decreases), controlling for legislator, congressional district and state indicators. Our results indicate that resource richness is approximately half as dominant as the main determinant, namely party affiliation, in driving legislators' voting behaviour over federal tax policies.
Perez-Sebastian, F. ; Raveh, O. ; Reingewertz, Y. Heterogeneous vertical tax externalities and macroeconomic effects of federal tax changes: The role of fiscal advantage. Journal of Urban Economics 2019, 112, 85 - 110. Publisher's VersionAbstract
How do state tax rates respond to federal tax shocks? This paper presents a novel mechanism of heterogeneous vertical tax externalities across state-levels of fiscal advantage, showing that tax increases can be expansionary – even without their reinvestment. States rich in natural resources have a fiscal advantage in the inter-state competition over production factors which allows them to respond better to increases in federal taxes and, consequently, attract capital from other parts of the nation. We add heterogeneity in fiscal advantage levels to an otherwise standard model of vertical tax externalities and horizontal tax competition. The model shows that, irrespective of federal redistribution, the contractionary effect of a federal tax increase can be overturned in fiscally advantaged states, through an increase in their tax base. Using the case of the U.S., and narrative-based measures of federal tax shocks a-la Romer and Romer (2010), we provide empirical evidence for the various aspects of this mechanism. Specifically, our baseline estimates indicate that, controlling for federal transfers, a 1% increase in the GDP share of capital-related federal taxes at the beginning of a year increases the growth rate of the per capita tax base by approximately 0.7% in high fiscal advantage states at the end of it.
Kimhi, A. ; Hanuka-Taflia, N. What drives the convergence in male and female wage distributions in Israel? A Shapley decomposition approach. The Journal of Economic Inequality 2019, 17, 379–399. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We examine the drivers of the convergence of the hourly wage distributions of males and females in Israel between 1995 and 2008. Israel is an interesting case study in this respect, since it experienced declining wage inequality in recent decades, as opposed to most developed countries. We found that the gender differences in both average wages and wage inequality declined over time. In particular, average wages increased faster for females than for males, while wage inequality declined faster for males than for females. We decomposed these distributional changes into the contributions of worker and job attributes, the returns on these attributes and residuals using a Shapley approach applied to counterfactual simulated wage distributions. We found that most of the increase in male wages was due to the increase in wages of workers in high-wage occupations and industries, while female wages increased mostly due to the increase in the returns to experience. The decline in wage inequality was driven mostly by changes in attributes, the decline in the returns to education, and the catching-up of immigrant workers, and each of these components was stronger for males than for females. We conclude that the convergence of the male and female wage distributions was due to both changes in the supply of labor, especially among females, and changes in the demand for labor leading to changes in the returns to various skills.
Reitan, A. ; Rubin, O. D. ; Rubin, A. ; Kimhi, A. Privatization, demographic growth, and perceived sustainability: Lessons from the Israeli renewing kibbutzim. Sustainable Development 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract In 2005, the State of Israel established a new classification?renewing kibbutzim. This study examines the relationship between the extent of privatization and the various forms of demographic growth that were permissible under the new classification and their impact on the perceived sustainability of the kibbutz in these communal communities. We collected data at the kibbutz level via interviews with community managers and at the individual level through questionnaires among community members in 19 kibbutzim. We employed the ?nearest neighbor? methodology to create pairs who were demographically eligible for a before and after comparison. Although our results about perceived sustainability suggest that kibbutzim across the board have overcome the struggle to survive and have been able to recover, unlike commonly assumed, changes they adopted in the direction of more privatization and diversified statuses are clearly correlated with smaller increases in levels of perceived sustainability. Our findings may offer lessons for wider sociological questions concerning processes of privatization and stratification.
Zelingher, R. ; Ghermandi, A. ; De Cian, E. ; Mistry, M. ; Kan, I. Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Vegetative Agriculture Markets in Israel. Environmental and Resource Economics 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We integrate the combined agricultural production effects of forecasted changes in CO2, temperature and precipitation into a multi-regional, country-wide partial equilibrium positive mathematical programming model. By conducting a meta-analysis of 2103 experimental observations from 259 agronomic studies we estimate production functions relating yields to CO2 concentration and temperature for 55 crops. We apply the model to simulate climate change in Israel based on 15 agricultural production regions. Downscaled projections for CO2 concentration, temperature and precipitation were derived from three general circulation models and four representative concentration pathways, showing temperature increase and precipitation decline throughout most of the county during the future periods 2041–2060 and 2061–2080. Given the constrained regional freshwater and non-freshwater quotas, farmers will adapt by partial abandonment of agriculture lands, increasing focus on crops grown in controlled environments at the expense of open-field and rain-fed crops. Both agricultural production and prices decline, leading to reduced agricultural revenues; nevertheless, production costs reduce at a larger extent such that farming profits increase. As total consumer surplus also augments, overall social welfare rises. We find that this outcome is reversed if the positive fertilization effects of increased CO2 concentrations are overlooked.
Ert, E. ; Fleischer, A. The evolution of trust in Airbnb: A case of home rental. Annals of Tourism Research 2019, 75, 279 - 287. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Airbnb, a leader of P2P accommodation markets, has acknowledged that “trust is what makes Airbnb work” and has implemented several trust indicators over the years: reputation system, impression formation, and certification. We evaluate the changes in these indicators over time: 1. the modification of the reputation system, 2. the removal of hosts’ photos from the main search screen, and 3. the introduction of the Superhost program. We find that the change of the rating system was associated with a small, yet significant, reduction in ratings, that the removal of the hosts’ photos might have eliminated the price premium of trustworthy images, and that Superhost certification involves a price premium, but does not seem to compensate for established reputation. This article also launches the Annals of Tourism Research Curated Collection on Peer-to-peer accommodation networks, a special selection of research in this field.
Ert, E. ; Cohen-Amin, S. ; Dinar, A. The effect of issue linkage on cooperation in bilateral conflicts: An experimental analysis. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics 2019, 79, 134 - 142. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bilateral conflicts, e.g., common pool resource allocation, pollution prevention, collusion of markets, or share transboundary water, often involve more than one issue that requires solution. The theoretical literature suggests that linking conflictive issues opens new opportunities for cooperation. We present a new experimental setting of bilateral conflicts, in which each issue is modeled as a separate Prisoner's Dilemma game. In two experiments, the effect of issue-linkage on cooperation is evaluated by comparing a treatment in which the two games are played sequentially (isolated treatment) with one where they are played simultaneously (linked treatment). Specifically, in the linked treatment each agent observes the payoffs from playing the different paths across games (e.g., cooperate in game1 but defect in game2) and then acts accordingly by committing to one of these paths. We differentiate the case where issue linkage implies symmetrical payoffs across games (Experiment 1), from the asymmetric case where one agent receives higher benefits from issue-linkage (Experiment 2). We find that issue linkage increases mutual cooperation and decreases mutual defection. Asymmetry reduces the level of cooperation in both isolated and linked games, yet issue linkage facilitates cooperation even when payoffs are asymmetric.