Addressing onsite sampling in recreation site choice models
Independent experts and politicians have criticized statistical analyses of recreation behavior, which rely upon onsite samples due to their potential for biased inference. The use of onsite sampling usually reflects data or budgetary constraints, but can lead to two primary forms of bias in site choice models. First, the strategy entails sampling site choices rather than sampling individuals--a form of bias called endogenous stratification. Under these conditions, sample choices may not reflect the site choices of the true population. Second, exogenous attributes of the individuals sampled onsite may differ from the attributes of individuals in the population--the most common form in recreation demand is avidity bias. We propose addressing these biases by combining two the existing methods: Weighted Exogenous Stratification Maximum Likelihood estimation and propensity score estimation. We use the National Marine Fisheries Service's Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey to illustrate methods of bias reduction, employing both simulated and empirical applications. We find that propensity score based weights can significantly reduce bias in estimation. Our results indicate that failure to account for these biases can overstate anglers' willingness to pay for improvements in fishing catch, but weighted models exhibit higher variance of parameter estimates and willingness to pay.
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