Willingness to accept compensation for the environmental risks of oil transport on the Amazon: A choice modeling experiment
This paper looks at the question of whether subsistence level/indigenous people place a value on the preservation of ecosystems independent of direct impacts of environmental change, such as impacts on their production activities. The economics literature generally suggests that non-use values don't exist among the poor and in the informal sector of the economy. We examine this issue through a choice modeling experiment. A survey was conducted of rainforest communities who live on the banks of the Amazon River (Rio Solimões), in the vicinity of proposed oil and gas pipelines. The data were analyzed in the choice modeling framework, revealing relatively high amounts of compensation that were necessary in order to accept the potential ecosystem damages associated with oil transport, even if the people were completely compensated for direct damages such as loss of access to productive resources. These results suggest that environmental quality is important for its own sake, a result that is very different from the implicit assumption among many economists.
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