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Consumer Surplus with Apology: A Historical Perspective on Nonmarket Valuation and Recreation Demand

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  • H. Spencer Banzhaf

    ()
    (Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Department of Economics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30302
    National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138)

Abstract

When economists first turned to applied benefit-cost analysis in the 1930s and 1940s, prices were the only widely accepted measure of benefits. Perhaps surprisingly, economists did not consider measures like consumer surplus, which seemed quite foreign. Consequently, when they turned to nonmarket valuation for goods like outdoor recreation, their constructed demand curves seemed less informative than a simple equilibrium price. As they struggled with how to make use of such information, natural resource economists set important precedents for the larger profession in coming to consumer surplus as a new measure of benefits. By creating important precedents and learning through practice, they shaped the discipline as much as they were shaped by received theory. At the same time, by coming to these notions in the context of political debates, they were also shaped by the norms of the state.

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File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.resource.012809.103936
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Annual Reviews in its journal Annual Review of Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 183-207

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Handle: RePEc:anr:reseco:v:2:y:2010:p:183-207

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Related research

Keywords: benefit-cost analysis; history of economic thought; outdoor recreation; welfare economics;

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Cited by:
  1. Marit Kragt, 2013. "The Effects of Changing Cost Vectors on Choices and Scale Heterogeneity," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 54(2), pages 201-221, February.
  2. Ronald C. Griffin, 2012. "The Origins and Ideals of Water Resource Economics in the United States," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 353-377, 08.

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