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The Contingent Valuation Debate: Why Economists Should Care

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  • Paul R. Portney

Abstract

The contingent valuation method, wherein sample surveys are used to elicit individuals' willingness to pay for certain types of policies, is playing an important role in government decision-making. The most prominent applications are in the valuation of damages to natural resources from oil spills. But the contingent valuation method will be more important still if it is used to expand the range of impacts included in applied benefit-cost analyses. This paper explains the origins of the contingent valuation method and the route through which it came to be the center of both an academic and a legal debate.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul R. Portney, 1994. "The Contingent Valuation Debate: Why Economists Should Care," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 3-17, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:8:y:1994:i:4:p:3-17
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.8.4.3
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    1. Hazilla, Michael & Kopp, Raymond J, 1990. "Social Cost of Environmental Quality Regulations: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 853-873, August.
    2. Krupnick, Alan J & Cropper, Maureen L, 1992. "The Effect of Information on Health Risk Valuations," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 29-48, February.
    3. Richard C. Bishop & Thomas A. Heberlein, 1979. "Measuring Values of Extramarket Goods: Are Indirect Measures Biased?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 61(5), pages 926-930.
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    JEL classification:

    • Q26 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources

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