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Using Choice Experiments to Value the Environment

  • Nick Hanley


  • Robert Wright
  • Vic Adamowicz

This paper we outline the “choice experiment” approach to environmental valuation. This approach has its roots in Lancaster's characteristics theory of value, in random utility theory and in experimental design. We show how marginal values for the attributes of environmental assets, such as forests and rivers, can be estimated from pair-wise choices, as well as the value of the environmental asset as a whole. These choice pairs are designed so as to allow efficient statistical estimation of the underlying utility function, and to minimise required sample size. Choice experiments have important advantages over other environmental valuation methods, such as contingent valuation and travel cost-type models, although many design issues remain unresolved. Applications to environmental issues have so far been relatively limited. We illustrate the use of choice experiments with reference to a recent UK study on public preferences for alternative forest landscapes. This study allows us to perform a convergent validity test on the choice experiment estimates of willingness to pay. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

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Article provided by European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 11 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 (April)
Pages: 413-428

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Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:11:y:1998:i:3:p:413-428
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  1. Adamowicz, Wiktor & Swait, Joffre & Boxall, Peter & Louviere, Jordan & Williams, Michael, 1997. "Perceptions versus Objective Measures of Environmental Quality in Combined Revealed and Stated Preference Models of Environmental Valuation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 65-84, January.
  2. Beggs, S. & Cardell, S. & Hausman, J., 1981. "Assessing the potential demand for electric cars," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-19, September.
  3. Louviere, Jordan J., 1992. "Experimental choice analysis: Introduction and overview," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 89-95, March.
  4. Langford, Ian H. & Bateman, Ian J., 1996. "Elicitation and truncation effects in contingent valuation studies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 265-267, December.
  5. Richard C. Ready & Jean C. Buzby & Dayuan Hu, 1996. "Differences between Continuous and Discrete Contingent Value Estimates," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(3), pages 397-411.
  6. Nick Hanley & Douglas MacMillan & Robert E. Wright & Craig Bullock & Ian Simpson & Dave Parsisson & Bob Crabtree, 1998. "Contingent Valuation Versus Choice Experiments: Estimating the Benefits of Environmentally Sensitive Areas in Scotland," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 1-15.
  7. N. D. Hanley & R. J. Ruffell, 1993. "The Contingent Valuation Of Forest Characteristics: Two Experiments," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 218-229.
  8. Swait, Joffre & Adamowicz, Wiktor L., 1996. "The Effect of Choice Environment and Task Demands on Consumer Behavior: Discriminating Between Contribution and Confusion," Staff Paper Series 24091, University of Alberta, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology.
  9. Adamowicz W. & Louviere J. & Williams M., 1994. "Combining Revealed and Stated Preference Methods for Valuing Environmental Amenities," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 271-292, May.
  10. Roe, Brian & Boyle, Kevin J. & Teisl, Mario F., 1996. "Using Conjoint Analysis to Derive Estimates of Compensating Variation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 145-159, September.
  11. Boxall, Peter C. & Adamowicz, Wiktor L. & Swait, Joffre & Williams, Michael & Louviere, Jordan, 1996. "A comparison of stated preference methods for environmental valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 243-253, September.
  12. Adamowicz, Wiktor L. & Boxall, Peter C. & Williams, Michael & Louviere, Jordan, 1995. "Stated Preference Approaches for Measuring Passive Use Values: Choice Experiments versus Contingent Valuation," Staff Paper Series 24126, University of Alberta, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology.
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