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Existence Value, Welfare and Altruism

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  • Jonathan Aldred
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    Abstract

    Existence Value has become an increasingly important concept as the use of cost benefit analysis has spread from traditional applications to attempts to place monetary value on, for instance, a rare wetland habitat. Environmental economists have generally accepted the tensions arising in the existence value concept from the range of recent applications, but it is argued here that their various attempts to resolve the difficulties have largely failed. Critics from outside economics, on the other hand, typically claim that the very notion of existence value as understood in economics is flawed, and urge its abandonment altogether. This paper suggests instead a fundamental redefinition of existence value, which, it is argued, (i) explains a number of diverse problems posed by the usual meaning of the term in economics; (ii) does not strain the intentions of respondents to 'willingness-to-pay' surveys; (iii) is consistent with a more realistic model of rational choice in environmental decision-making; and (iv) is sensitive to criticisms from environmental ethics.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by White Horse Press in its journal Environmental Values.

    Volume (Year): 3 (1994)
    Issue (Month): 4 (November)
    Pages: 381-402

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    Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev3:ev321

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    Web page: http://www.erica.demon.co.uk

    Related research

    Keywords: Existence value; contingent valuation method; welfare; commitment; altruism; incommensurable choices;

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    Cited by:
    1. Davidson, Marc D., 2013. "On the relation between ecosystem services, intrinsic value, existence value and economic valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 171-177.
    2. Hanley, Nicholas & Hynes, Stephen & Jobstvogt, Niels & Kenter, Jasper & Witte, Ursula, 2013. "Twenty Thousand Sterling Under the Sea: Estimating the value of protecting deep-sea biodiversity," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2013-04, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
    3. Attfield, Robin, 1998. "Existence value and intrinsic value," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2-3), pages 163-168, February.
    4. Hein, Lars & van Koppen, Kris & de Groot, Rudolf S. & van Ierland, Ekko C., 2006. "Spatial scales, stakeholders and the valuation of ecosystem services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 209-228, May.
    5. Seth D. Baum, 2012. "Value Typology in Cost-Benefit Analysis," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 21(4), pages 499-524, November.
    6. Halkos, George, 2013. "The relationship between people’s attitude and willingness to pay for river conservation," MPRA Paper 50560, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Adams, Cristina & Seroa da Motta, Ronaldo & Ortiz, Ramón Arigoni & Reid, John & Ebersbach Aznar, Cristina & de Almeida Sinisgalli, Paulo Antonio, 2008. "The use of contingent valuation for evaluating protected areas in the developing world: Economic valuation of Morro do Diabo State Park, Atlantic Rainforest, São Paulo State (Brazil)," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 359-370, June.
    8. Anderson, Johan & Vadnjal, Dan & Uhlin, Hans-Erik, 2000. "Moral dimensions of the WTA-WTP disparity: an experimental examination," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 153-162, January.

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