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From Exxon to BP: Has Some Number Become Better Than No Number?

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  • Catherine L. Kling
  • Daniel J. Phaneuf
  • Jinhua Zhao

Abstract

On March 23, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound and released over 250,000 barrels of crude oil, resulting in 1300 miles of oiled shoreline. The Exxon spill ignited a debate about the appropriate compensation for damages suffered, and among economists, a debate concerning the adequacy of methods to value public goods, particularly when the good in question has limited direct use, such as the pristine natural environment of the spill region. The efficacy of stated preference methods generally, and contingent valuation in particular, is no mere academic debate. Billions of dollars are at stake. An influential symposium appearing in this journal in 1994 provided arguments for and against the credibility of these methods, and an extensive research program published in academic journals has continued to this day. This paper assesses what occurred in this academic literature between the Exxon spill and the BP disaster. We will rely on theoretical developments, neoclassical and behavioral paradigms, empirical and experimental evidence, and a clearer elucidation of validity criteria to provide a framework for readers to ponder the question of the validity of contingent valuation and, more generally, stated preference methods.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.26.4.3
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 26 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Pages: 3-26

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:26:y:2012:i:4:p:3-26

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.26.4.3
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  1. > Environmental and Natural Resource Economics > Environmental Economics > Valuation > Contingent valuation method
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Cited by:
  1. Andersson, Henrik & Tago, Damian & Treich, Nicolas, 2014. "Pesticides and health: A review of evidence on health effects, valuation of risks, and benefit‐cost analysis," TSE Working Papers 14-477, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  2. Zapata, Samuel D. & Carpio, Carlos E. & Isengildina-Massa, Olga & Lamie, R. Dave, 2013. "The Economic Impact of Services Provided by an Electronic Trade Platform: The Case of MarketMaker," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 38(3), December.
  3. Petrolia, Daniel R. & Interis, Matthew G. & Hwang, Joonghyun, 2013. "America’s Wetland? A National Survey of Willingness to Pay for Restoration of Louisiana’s Coastal Wetlands," 2013 Annual Meeting, February 2-5, 2013, Orlando, Florida 142305, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  4. Timothy C. Haab & Matthew G. Interis & Daniel R. Petrolia & John C. Whitehead, 2013. "From Hopeless to Curious? Thoughts on Hausman’s “Dubious to Hopeless” Critique of Contingent Valuation," Working Papers 13-07, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  5. Caffey, Rex H. & Wang, Hua & Petrolia, Daniel R., 2014. "Trajectory economics: Assessing the flow of ecosystem services from coastal restoration," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 74-84.
  6. Baker, Rick & Ruting, Brad, 2014. "Environmental Policy Analysis: A Guide to Non‑Market Valuation," 2014 Conference (58th), February 4-7, 2014, Port Maquarie, Australia 165810, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  7. Rogers, A. & Kragt, M.E. & Gibson, F. & Pannell, D. & Burton, M. & Petersen, L., 2013. "Is non-market valuation used in environmental policy making?," Working Papers 156197, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  8. Drichoutis, Andreas C. & Lusk, Jayson & Pappa, Valentina, 2014. "Elicitation formats and the WTA/WTP gap: A study of climate neutral foods," MPRA Paper 55831, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Van Houtven, George & Mansfield, Carol & Phaneuf, Daniel J. & von Haefen, Roger & Milstead, Bryan & Kenney, Melissa A. & Reckhow, Kenneth H., 2014. "Combining expert elicitation and stated preference methods to value ecosystem services from improved lake water quality," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 40-52.
  10. Loomis, John B., 2014. "2013WAEA Keynote Address: Strategies for Overcoming Hypothetical Bias in Stated Preference Surveys," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 39(1), April.

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