A comparison of citizen and "expert" preferences using an attribute-based approach to choice
This paper explores whether expert judgements can be taken as a proxy for citizen preferences for determining investment strategies for public goods. As an illustration, we focus on the provision of Public Rights Of Way (PROW) by Local Government Authorities in England. These provide rights of passage over property to those other than the owners, and little information is available on the welfare effects of changes in the provision and use of PROW. Given limited funds, reliance on expert judgement could be a cost effective alternative for decision-making compared with stated preference surveys of citizens. Two methods are compared. The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is used to elicit expert judgement to proxy citizen preferences for different attributes of PROW. The Choice Experiment (CE) technique is then used to derive preferences directly through personal interviews with citizens. Overall it was found that judicious use of AHP by experts can, in this instance, be used to represent citizen views. However, this result may not be easily generalisable to other settings.
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