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A Meta-analysis of Hypothetical Bias in Stated Preference Valuation

  • James Murphy

    ()

  • P. Allen
  • Thomas Stevens
  • Darryl Weatherhead

Individuals are widely believed to overstate their economic valuation of a good by a factor of two or three. This paper reports the results of a meta-analysis of hypothetical bias in 28 stated preference valuation studies that report monetary willingness-to-pay and used the same mechanism for eliciting both hypothetical and actual values. The papers generated 83 observations with a median ratio of hypothetical to actual value of only 1.35, and the distribution has severe positive skewness. We find that a choice-based elicitation mechanism is important in reducing bias. We provide some evidence that the use of student subjects may be a source of bias, but since this variable is highly correlated with group experimental settings, firm conclusions cannot be drawn. There is some weak evidence that bias increases when public goods are being valued, and that some calibration methods may be effective at reducing bias. However, results are quite sensitive to model specification, which will remain a problem until a comprehensive theory of hypothetical bias is developed. Copyright Springer 2005

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

Volume (Year): 30 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (03)
Pages: 313-325

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Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:30:y:2005:i:3:p:313-325
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100263

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  1. John Loomis & Thomas Brown & Beatrice Lucero & George Peterson, 1996. "Improving Validity Experiments of Contingent Valuation Methods: Results of Efforts to Reduce the Disparity of Hypothetical and Actual Willingness to Pay," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(4), pages 450-461.
  2. Richard T. Carson & Nicholas E. Flores & Kerry M. Martin & Jennifer L. Wright, 1996. "Contingent Valuation and Revealed Preference Methodologies: Comparing the Estimates for Quasi-Public Goods," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(1), pages 80-99.
  3. Laura O. Taylor & Ronald G. Cummings, 1999. "Unbiased Value Estimates for Environmental Goods: A Cheap Talk Design for the Contingent Valuation Method," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 649-665, June.
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  11. John A. List, 2001. "Do Explicit Warnings Eliminate the Hypothetical Bias in Elicitation Procedures? Evidence from Field Auctions for Sportscards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1498-1507, December.
  12. Brookshire, David S & Coursey, Don L, 1987. "Measuring the Value of a Public Good: An Empirical Comparison of Elicitation Procedures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 554-66, September.
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  15. John List, 2003. "Using random nth price auctions to value non-market goods and services," Framed Field Experiments 00173, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. Champ, Patricia A. & Bishop, Richard C. & Brown, Thomas C. & McCollum, Daniel W., 1997. "Using Donation Mechanisms to Value Nonuse Benefits from Public Goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 151-162, June.
  17. Jason Shogren & John List, 1998. "Calibration of the difference between actual and hypothetical valuations in a field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00296, The Field Experiments Website.
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