Socioeconomic Determinants of Health- and Food Safety-Related Risk Perceptions


Donna M. Dosman Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta, Edmonton.


Individual and societal perceptions of food-related health risks are multidimensional and complex. Social, political, psychological, and economic factors interact with technological factors and affect perceptions in complex ways. Previous research found that the significant determinants of risk perceptions include socioeconomic and behavioral variables. Most of these past results are based on two-way comparisons and factor analysis. The objective of this study was to analyze the significance of socioeconomic determinants of risk perceptions concerning health and food safety. A multivariate approach was used and the results were compared with earlier bivariate results to determine which socioeconomic predictors were robust across methods. There were two major findings in this study. The first was that the results in the multivariate models were generally consistent with earlier bivariate analysis. That is, variables such as household income, number of children, gender, age, and voting preferences were strong predictors of an individual's risk perceptions. The second result was that the gender of the respondent was the only variable found to be robust across all three classes of health and food safety issues across two time periods.