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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

PO Box 12, Rehovot 76100
Fax: 08-9466267

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

Head of the teaching program:

Dr. Iddo Kan, Tel: 08-9489233

Miri Arazi, Tel: 08-9489230


Fleischer, A. ; Felsenstein, D. ; Lichter, M. A Spatially Accurate Method for Evaluating Distributional Effects of Ecosystem Services. Ecological Economics 2018, 145, 451 - 460. Publisher's Version
Blaychfeld-Magnazi, M. ; Knobler, H. ; Voet, H. ; Reshef, N. ; Weitzman, S. ; Sumner, A. E. ; Zornitzki, T. Ethnic Variation in the Association of Hypertension With Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Clinical Hypertension 2017, 19, 184-189. Publisher's VersionAbstract
{Lifestyle changes occurring with urbanization increase the prevalence of both type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and hypertension (HTN). Yemenites who have immigrated to Israel have demonstrated a dramatic increase in T2DM but the prevalence of HTN in diabetic Yemenites is unclear. In a cross-sectional study, the authors evaluated the prevalence of HTN and lifestyle patterns in Israelis with T2DM of Yemenite (Y-DM) and non-Yemenite (NY-DM) origin. Y-DM (n=63) and NY-DM (n=120) had similar age (63±7 vs 64±7 years
Myers, E. F. ; Trostler, N. ; Varsha, V. ; Voet, H. Insights from the Diabetes in India Nutrition Guidelines Study: Adopting Innovations Using a Knowledge Transfer Model. Topics in Clinical Nutrition 2017, 32, 69-86. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This 12-month prospective randomized cluster trial of 20 dietitians in India compared usual care (UC) and evidence-based nutrition practice guideline (EBNPG) care for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Baseline, 6-month, and 12-month data from 238 patients were analyzed. EBNPG implementation was evaluated using the Ottawa Model for Knowledge Transfer. EBNPG and UC groups achieved significant hemoglobin A1C improvements. EBNPG-treated participants were significantly more likely to meet low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, and triglyceride goals at 6 or 12 months. Dietitian dropout, implementation barriers, and undetermined EBNPG intervention fidelity are limitations. Future research should assess barriers/supports and degree of EBNPG use. © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.
Sedik, D. ; Lerman, Z. ; Shagaida, N. ; Uzun, V. ; Yanbykh, R. Agricultural and rural policies in Russia; Handbook of International Food and Agricultural Policies (In 3 Volumes); 2017; pp. 433-495. Publisher's Version
Lerman, Z. ; Sedik, D. Cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan: Findings from a Survey of Cooperatives and Users. Contributions to Management Science 2017, 233-249. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Most cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan are production cooperatives—successors of former collective farms. There are hardly any “pure” service cooperatives, although a survey conducted as part of this study reveals that production cooperatives partially fulfill the function of service cooperatives by providing farm services also to nonmembers. Most respondents highlight difficulties due to shortage of inputs and inadequate access to farm machinery, including lack of machinery leasing options. Difficulties with product sales, access to financial sources, and veterinary services were highlighted with lower frequency, but still by more than 20% of respondents. These are precisely the problem areas that service cooperatives are designed to overcome. Respondents indicate that cooperatives play a positive role in rural life: they improve service delivery to farmers and the perceived well-being is higher for cooperative members than for outsiders. Formal cooperation as manifested in membership in cooperatives is very limited among the farmers surveyed. Informal cooperation is much more widespread, and the substantial gap between the frequency of formal and informal cooperation (8% and 22% of farmers surveyed, respectively) clearly suggests that there is a large potential for development and adoption of service cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan. Cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan are few in number and widely scattered. More than half the respondents report that there is no cooperative in the vicinity that they can join. Other reasons for not joining a cooperative (fear of losing independence, lack of information about cooperatives) manifest lack of clear understanding of the differences between service and production cooperatives and strongly suggest that cooperative development requires a large-scale information campaign to familiarize the rural population with the working of cooperatives. © Springer International Publishing AG 2017.
Tsur, Y. ; Hochman, E. Economic aspects of the management of algal production; CRC Handbook of Microalgal Mass Culture; 2017; pp. 473-483. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This chapter concerns the economic aspects associated with the development of the biotechnology of algal mass culture. Economic considerations have a major role in the chain of events that lead from the first research ideas and lab experiments up to the development of a self-sustained industry. Throughout the process there is an interaction between economic factors, such as prices of inputs and outputs as well as cost of research, and the various biological factors. © 1986 by Taylor & Francis.
Tsur, Y. Bounding reasonable doubt: implications for plea bargaining. European Journal of Law and Economics 2017, 44, 197–216. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A bound for reasonable doubt is offered based on the cost of type I and type II errors. The bound increases with the punishment, hence its use as a conviction threshold may leave too many offenders of severe crimes at large. Plea bargaining addresses this limitation but introduces strategic interaction between concerned parties. Considering strategic interaction between defendants and judge/jury, it is shown that to any plea offer there corresponds a unique equilibrium. Moreover, all equilibria share the same conviction threshold, given by the reasonable doubt bound. The latter property ensures that the plea bargaining procedure is consistent with the `equality before the law' principle. The former property (that to any plea offer there corresponds a unique equilibrium) bears implications for the design of plea bargain schemes.
Tsur, Y. ; Zemel, A. Coping with Multiple Catastrophic Threats. Environmental and Resource Economics 2017, 68, 175 - 196. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We study intertemporal policies for dealing with multiple catastrophic threats with endogenous hazards, allowing, inter alia, for gradual mitigation efforts that accumulate to reduce occurrence risks. The long-run properties of the optimal policies are characterized in terms of the key parameters (damage, hazard sensitivity and natural degradation rate) associated with each type of catastrophic threat. Effects of background threats on the optimal response to a potential catastrophe are illustrated numerically.
Tsur, Y. ; Zemel, A. Steady state properties of multi-state economic models. Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique 2017, 50, 506-521. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract A simple method to derive optimal steady states of multi-state dynamic economic systems with minimal assumptions on the underlying processes is developed. This is accomplished by an n-dimensional function defined over the n-dimensional state space in terms of the model's primitives. The location and stability properties of optimal steady state candidates are characterized by the roots and derivatives of this function. A resource management example illustrates the simplicity and applicability of the method.
Dinar, A. ; Tsur, Y. Management of Transboundary Water Resources under Scarcity; WORLD SCIENTIFIC, 2017. Publisher's Version
Kimhi, A. ; Menahem-Carmi, S. Does rural household income depend on neighboring urban centers? Evidence from Israel. Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research 2017, 13, 26-35. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This research explores the dependence of rural incomes on nearby urban centers, mostly implied by rural-to-urban and/or urban-to-rural selective migration. Migration flows are affected by wage differentials as well as differences in housing costs and other amenities, and by commuting costs and costs of migration. An income-generating equation, which includes characteristics of nearby urban communities among the explanatory variables, is estimated for rural households in Israeli moshav villages. The results show that the population of nearby urban communities is significantly and positively associated with rural household per-capita income. The same is true for mean income in these communities. In addition, distance from urban communities affects rural income negatively, suggesting that commuting costs are important determinants of the direction of the net migration of high-income households.
Heizler, O. ; Kimhi, A. The Role of Children in Building Parents’ Social Networks. In Social Economics: Current and Emerging Avenues; Social Economics: Current and Emerging Avenues; Mit Press, 2017; pp. 283–304. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Fertility is one of the most important decisions that a household makes. The economic literature has examined numerous aspects of fertility decisions: the optimal number of children, the tradeoff between quantity and quality of children, intergenerational transfers, old-age security and intra-family insurance, the effect of children on parents’ labor supply, the effect of children on parents’ marital stability, and so on (Browning 1992). However, despite the emerging economic literature on the important role played by social networks in various aspects of economic behavior (Jackson 2005; Birke 2009), little is known about the effect of family composition in general, and children
Ghose, S. ; Heiman, A. ; Lowengart, O. Isolating strategy effectiveness of brands in an emerging market: A choice modeling approach. Journal of Brand Management 2017, 24, 161–177. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Emerging markets are often characterized by the presence of foreign brands and local brands in a product category. These brands tend to get positioned differently in the market by utilizing marketing mix elements with different focuses on the functional, image, or value nature of the brands. We utilize a choice model specification quite different from the commonly used types, to identify whether a particular brand benefits more from a certain type of marketing mix emphasis than from another type of emphasis. The model enables us to evaluate main and synergistic effects of mix elements on brand market shares. In an empirical analysis of brands in an emerging market, we found that international brands tended to benefit from highlighting the image attributes of the brands, while local brands benefited more from a focus on brand functionality. We also found significant variations in the saliency of different positioning foci across different market segments characterized by demographic variables. The methodology used in our research can also be utilized for identifying appropriate brand-specific marketing strategies for multiple brands in a variety of consumer markets.
Ebenstein, A. ; Fan, M. ; Greenstone, M. ; He, G. ; Zhou, M. New evidence on the impact of sustained exposure to air pollution on life expectancy from China’s Huai River Policy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2017, 114, 10384–10389. Publisher's VersionAbstract
An estimated 4.5 billion people are currently exposed to particulate matter (PM) levels at least twice the concentration that the WHO considers safe. Existing evidence linking health to air pollution is largely based on populations exposed to only modest levels of PM and almost entirely composed of observational studies, which are likely to confound air pollution with other unobserved determinants of health. This study uses quasiexperimental variation in particulate matter smaller than 10 μm (PM10) generated by an arbitrary Chinese policy to find that a 10-μg/m3 increase in PM10 reduces life expectancy by 0.64 years. The estimates imply that bringing all of China into compliance with its Class I standards for PM10 would save 3.7 billion life-years.This paper finds that a 10-μg/m3 increase in airborne particulate matter [particulate matter smaller than 10 μm (PM10)] reduces life expectancy by 0.64 years (95% confidence interval = 0.21–1.07). This estimate is derived from quasiexperimental variation in PM10 generated by China’s Huai River Policy, which provides free or heavily subsidized coal for indoor heating during the winter to cities north of the Huai River but not to those to the south. The findings are derived from a regression discontinuity design based on distance from the Huai River, and they are robust to using parametric and nonparametric estimation methods, different kernel types and bandwidth sizes, and adjustment for a rich set of demographic and behavioral covariates. Furthermore, the shorter lifespans are almost entirely caused by elevated rates of cardiorespiratory mortality, suggesting that PM10 is the causal factor. The estimates imply that bringing all of China into compliance with its Class I standards for PM10 would save 3.7 billion life-years.
Ert, E. ; Heiman, A. Potential psychological accounts for the relation between food insecurity and body overweight. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 2017, 40, 53. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We suggest two psychological mechanisms, temporal discounting and feeling of resource scarcity, for explaining the relation between food insecurity and body overweight. We demonstrate how Nettle et al.'s findings could be explained, post hoc, by each of these accounts, suggesting that their data are not rich enough to allow identification of mechanisms that underlie food insecurity and overweight relationship.
Erev, I. ; Ert, E. ; Plonsky, O. ; Cohen, D. ; Cohen, O. From anomalies to forecasts: Toward a descriptive model of decisions under risk, under ambiguity, and from experience. Psychological Review 2017, 124, 369 - 409.Abstract
Experimental studies of choice behavior document distinct, and sometimes contradictory, deviations from maximization. For example, people tend to overweight rare events in 1-shot decisions under risk, and to exhibit the opposite bias when they rely on past experience. The common explanations of these results assume that the contradicting anomalies reflect situation-specific processes that involve the weighting of subjective values and the use of simple heuristics. The current article analyzes 14 choice anomalies that have been described by different models, including the Allais, St. Petersburg, and Ellsberg paradoxes, and the reflection effect. Next, it uses a choice prediction competition methodology to clarify the interaction between the different anomalies. It focuses on decisions under risk (known payoff distributions) and under ambiguity (unknown probabilities), with and without feedback concerning the outcomes of past choices. The results demonstrate that it is not necessary to assume situation-specific processes. The distinct anomalies can be captured by assuming high sensitivity to the expected return and 4 additional tendencies: pessimism, bias toward equal weighting, sensitivity to payoff sign, and an effort to minimize the probability of immediate regret. Importantly, feedback increases sensitivity to probability of regret. Simple abstractions of these assumptions, variants of the model Best Estimate and Sampling Tools (BEAST), allow surprisingly accurate ex ante predictions of behavior. Unlike the popular models, BEAST does not assume subjective weighting functions or cognitive shortcuts. Rather, it assumes the use of sampling tools and reliance on small samples, in addition to the estimation of the expected values. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Dubovski, N. ; Ert, E. ; Niv, M. Y. Bitter mouth-rinse affects emotions. Food Quality and Preference 2017, 60, 154 - 164. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The sense of taste enables evaluation of food and is an important regulator of food consumption. In general, sweet is an attractive taste modality that leads to ingestion of nutritive food, while sour and bitter are aversive taste modalities that lead to avoidance of spoiled and toxic food. Recent studies suggest inter-connections between taste, emotion and cognition. Here we test the potential effects of two prototypical taste modalities, bitter and sweet, on emotions and on generalized avoidance behaviors, such as risk aversion and mistrust. Three experiments included over 250 participants who tasted, without swallowing, one of the following stimuli: water control, quinine solution, sucrose solution, quinine-sucrose mixture solution, or propylthiouracil (PROP) solution. The participants had to identify the taste, rank its intensity, perform seemingly unrelated behavioral tasks, and fill a PANAS mood questionnaire. Our results indicate that oral exposure to bitter compounds negatively correlates with mood scores; that the effect depends on perceiving the solution as bitter; that bitter mouth rinse can lower PANAS mood score and that there is a potential asymmetry in the effects of bitter and sweet taste modalities on mood.
Ert, E. ; Haruvy, E. Revisiting risk aversion: Can risk preferences change with experience?. Economics Letters 2017, 151, 91 - 95. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Holt–Laury measure for risk aversion has been used extensively in economic studies to measure individuals’ risk aversion. The idea behind this measure is that individuals have stable risk preferences when making decisions under risk. We show that having repeated experiences with the Holt–Laury task can move individuals from exhibiting “risk aversion” to displaying “risk neutrality.” This finding suggests that either risk preferences are not robust to a few experiences or that responses to the tasks indicate something else. We show that a simple model of adaptation can capture this behavioral pattern.
Reznik, A. ; Feinerman, E. ; Finkelshtain, I. ; Fisher, F. ; Huber-Lee, A. ; Joyce, B. ; Kan, I. Economic implications of agricultural reuse of treated wastewater in Israel: A statewide long-term perspective. Ecological Economics 2017, 135, 222 - 233. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We develop an Israeli version of the Multi-Year Water Allocation System (MYWAS) mathematical programming model to conduct statewide, long-term analyses of three topics associated with agricultural reuse of wastewater. We find that: (1) enabling agricultural irrigation with treated wastewater significantly reduces the optimal capacity levels of seawater and brackish-water desalination over the simulated 3-decade period, and increases Israel's welfare by 3.3 billion USD in terms of present values; (2) a policy requiring desalination of treated wastewater pre-agricultural reuse, as a method to prevent long-run damage to the soil and groundwater, reduces welfare by 2.7 billion USD; hence, such a policy is warranted only if the avoided damages exceed this welfare loss; (3) desalination of treated wastewater in order to increase freshwater availability for agricultural irrigation is not optimal, since the costs overwhelm the generated agricultural benefits. We also find the results associated with these three topics to be sensitive to the natural recharge of Israel's freshwater aquifers, and to the rate at which domestic-water demand evolves due to population and income growth.
Arviv, A. ; Muklada, H. ; Kigel, J. ; Voet, H. ; Glasser, T. ; Dvash, L. ; Ungar, E. D. ; Landau, S. Y. Targeted grazing of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and Syrian thistle (Notobasis syriaca) by goats: Preference following preconditioning, generational transfer, and toxicity. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2016, 179, 53-59. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Nitrophilic thistles such as milk thistle (Sylibum marianum) and Syrian thistle (Notobasis syriaca) encroach rangeland areas where animals gather and defecate, in particular around watering and feeding points. High densities of milk and Syrian thistles (MST) diminish forage yields and detract from the amenity value of these areas. The aims of the present study were: (i) to test the safety of feeding MST to adult goats; (ii) to determine if preconditioning adult goats to MST, by feeding it indoors together with concentrate, enhances preference for MST when they graze MST-rich pastures; and (iii) to test for generational transfer by comparing the propensity to consume MST and the preference for MST over clover hay for weaned kids that previously suckled from does that were, or were not, preconditioned to consume MST fed as green fodder. We found that eating MST was not toxic to adult goats. Over six observation sessions of one hour, preconditioned goats devoted 50% more time to consuming MST than non-conditioned counterparts (30.3% versus 20.6%, respectively; P = 0.0005), and kids that experienced the preconditioning period together with their does tended (P = 0.08) to show a greater preference for MST over clover hay than their counterparts born to non-conditioned adults. Although the efficacy in depleting the seed bank has yet to be verified, from the point of view of the animal, goats may be used in targeted grazing of milk and Syrian thistles. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.