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The effect of varying the causes of environmental problems on stated wtp values: Evidence from a field study

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  • Erwin Bulte
  • Shelby Gerking
  • John List
  • Aart de Zeeuw

Abstract

Standard applications of utility theory assume that utility depends solely on outcomes and not on causes. This study uses a field experiment conducted in the Netherlands to determine if alternative causes of an environmental problem affect willingness to pay to ameliorate it. We find evidence supporting the hypothesis that people are willing to pay significantly more to correct problems caused by humans than by nature (the "outrage effect"), but find no support for the hypothesis that "moral responsibility" matters. We also find support for the hypothesis that stated willingness to pay values obtained via "cheap talk" and "consequential" treatments are lower than without inclusion of these protocols.

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File URL: http://karlan.yale.edu/fieldexperiments/papers/00134.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Framed Field Experiments with number 00134.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00134

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Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Laura O. Taylor & Ronald G. Cummings, 1999. "Unbiased Value Estimates for Environmental Goods: A Cheap Talk Design for the Contingent Valuation Method," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 649-665, June.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Trudy Ann Cameron & Michelle D. James, 1986. "Efficient Estimation Methods for "Closed-Ended" Contingent Valuation Surveys," UCLA Economics Working Papers 404, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. John List, 2001. "Do explicit warnings eliminate the hypothetical bias in elicitation procedures? Evidence from field auctions for sportscards," Framed Field Experiments 00163, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Timothy C. Haab & Ju-Chin Huang & John C. Whitehead, . "Are Hypothetical Referenda Incentive Compatible? A Comment," Working Papers 9708, East Carolina University, Department of Economics.
  7. Cummings, Ronald G, et al, 1997. "Are Hypothetical Referenda Incentive Compatible?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 609-21, June.
  8. Brown, Thomas C. & Nannini, Dawn & Gorter, Robert B. & Bell, Paul A. & Peterson, George L., 2002. "Judged seriousness of environmental losses: reliability and cause of loss," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 479-491, September.
  9. List, John A. & Shogren, Jason F., 2002. "Calibration of Willingness-to-Accept," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 219-233, March.
  10. Subramanian, Uma & Cropper, Maureen, 2000. " Public Choices between Life Saving Programs: The Tradeoff between Qualitative Factors and Lives Saved," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 117-49, July.
  11. Ronald G. Cummings & Laura Osborne Taylor, 1998. "Does Realism Matter in Contingent Valuation Surveys?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 74(2), pages 203-215.
  12. Kahneman, Daniel & Ritov, Ilana, 1994. "Determinants of Stated Willingness to Pay for Public Goods: A Study in the Headline Method," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 5-38, July.
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