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Valuing Access to U.S. Public Lands: A Unique Pricing Experiment

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  • Aadland, David
  • Anatchkova, Bistra
  • Grandjean, Burke
  • Shogren, Jason
  • Simon, Benjamin
  • Taylor, Patricia

Abstract

We report the findings of a unique nation-wide experiment to price access to U.S. public lands. In 2004, the U.S. Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act mandated the creation of a new annual pass to cover all federal recreation sites that charge an entrance or access fee. Our task was to assist federal policymakers in determining an appropriate price for this new pass. Toward that end, we administered a national telephone survey to over 3,700 households and used contingent valuation to estimate households’ willingness to pay (WTP) for the new pass at different prices. Our innovative experimental design allows us to estimate three distinct components of hypothetical bias in order to calibrate our WTP estimates against actual purchasing decisions. In a sample of the general U.S. population – most of whom have little experience with similar federal passes – respondents tend to greatly exaggerate their WTP for the pass when contrasted with previous pass sales. A sample of recent pass purchasers, however, exhibits little bias, confirming other recent research showing that market experience can mitigate hypothetical bias. Calibrated for bias, our results indicate that the $80 pass price ultimately adopted by policymakers implies an increase of nearly 2.5% in total revenue relative to the former pass, priced at $65, but a 4.5% loss in potential revenue absent any such pass.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8724.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8724

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  1. Cherry, Todd L. & Shogren, Jason F., 2007. "Rationality crossovers," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 261-277, April.
  2. David Aadland & Arthur J. Caplan, 2003. "Willingness to Pay for Curbside Recycling with Detection and Mitigation of Hypothetical Bias," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(2), pages 492-502.
  3. Cameron, Trudy Ann & James, Michelle D, 1987. "Efficient Estimation Methods for "Closed-ended' Contingent Valuation Surveys," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(2), pages 269-76, May.
  4. Fox, John A. & Shogren, J. & Hayes, Dermot J. & Kliebenstein, James, 2003. "Cvm-X: Calibrating Contingent Values with Experimental Auction Markets," Staff General Research Papers 11935, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Champ, Patricia A. & Bishop, Richard C. & Brown, Thomas C. & McCollum, Daniel W., 1997. "Using Donation Mechanisms to Value Nonuse Benefits from Public Goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 151-162, June.
  6. John C. Whitehead, 2002. "Incentive Incompatibility and Starting-Point Bias in Iterative Valuation Questions," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 78(2), pages 285-297.
  7. John List & Craig Gallet, 2001. "What Experimental Protocol Influence Disparities Between Actual and Hypothetical Stated Values?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 20(3), pages 241-254, November.
  8. Cherry, Todd L. & Crocker, Thomas D. & Shogren, Jason F., 2003. "Rationality spillovers," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 63-84, January.
  9. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
  10. Herriges, Joseph A. & Shogren, Jason F., 1996. "Starting Point Bias in Dichotomous Choice Valuation with Follow-Up Questioning," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 112-131, January.
  11. James Murphy & P. Allen & Thomas Stevens & Darryl Weatherhead, 2005. "A Meta-analysis of Hypothetical Bias in Stated Preference Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 30(3), pages 313-325, 03.
  12. 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.
  13. List, John A. & Shogren, Jason F., 1998. "Calibration of the difference between actual and hypothetical valuations in a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 193-205, October.
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