Publication Date

Fall 12-17-2016


This study identifies the factors that influence parents’ choice of milk for their children, using data from a unique survey administered in 2013 in Hunan province, China. In this survey, we identified two brands of milk, which differ in their prices and safety claims by the producer. Data were collected on parents’ choice of milk between the two brands, demographics, attitude towards food safety and behaviors related to food. Stepwise model selection and Bayesian model averaging (BMA) are used to search for influential factors. The two approaches consistently select the same factors suggested by an economic theoretical model, including price and food expenditure per person. They also select other factors, such as the trust level of the safety claim and the number of averting behaviors. BMA finds strong evidence of model uncertainty, which suggests one single “true” model does not exist. Over 150 models are identified with a maximum 5% probability as the “true” model. Therefore, compared to stepwise model selection that does not account for model uncertainty, BMA is a more appropriate approach to identify the factors that influence parents’ choice of milk.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Mathematics & Statistics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Gabriel Huerta

Second Committee Member

James Degnan

Third Committee Member

Li Li




Model selection, Bayesian model averaging, stepwise, logistic regression, food safety, food choice

Document Type