Public Attitudes to Contingent Valuation and Public Consultation
The use of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in environmental decision-making and the contingent valuation (CV) technique as input into traditional CBA to elicit environmental values in monetary terms has stimulated an extensive debate. Critics have questioned the appropriateness of both the method and the technique. Some alternative suggestions for the elicitation of environmental values are based on a social process of deliberation. However, just like traditional economic theory, these alternative approaches may be questioned on their implicit value judgements regarding the legitimacy of the social-political organisation of the process of value elicitation. Instead of making assumptions a priori , research efforts should be focused on the processes by which actual public attitudes and preferences towards the environment can best be elicited and fed into environmental or other public policy decision-making. In the study presented in this paper, support was found for both the individual WTP based approach and a participatory social deliberation approach to inform the environmental decision-making process, suggesting that a combination of both approaches is most appropriate.
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