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Contingent Valuation, Hypothetical Bias, and Experimental Economics

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  • Murphy, James J.
  • Stevens, Thomas H.

Abstract

Although the contingent valuation method has been widely used to value a diverse array of nonmarket environmental and natural resource commodities, recent empirical evidence suggests it may not accurately estimate real economic values. The hypothetical nature of environmental valuation surveys typically results in responses that are significantly greater than actual payments. Economists have had mixed success in developing techniques designed to control for this "hypothetical bias." This paper highlights the role of experimental economics in addressing hypothetical bias, and identifies a gap in the existing literature by focusing on the underlying causes of this bias. Most of the calibration techniques used today lack a theoretical justification, and therefore these procedures need to be used with caution. We argue that future experimental research should investigate the reasons hypothetical bias persists. A better understanding of the causes should enhance the effectiveness of calibration techniques.

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  • Murphy, James J. & Stevens, Thomas H., 2004. "Contingent Valuation, Hypothetical Bias, and Experimental Economics," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 33(2), pages 1-11, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:arerjl:31262
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.31262
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