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Valuing the cultural monuments of Armenia: Bayesian updating of prior beliefs in contingent valuation

  • Anna Alberini
  • Alberto Longo

The most appropriate way to measure the social benefits of conserving built cultural heritage sites is to ask the beneficiaries of conservation interventions how much they would be willing to pay for them. We use contingent valuation—a survey-based approach that elicits willingness to pay (WTP) directly from individuals—to estimate the benefits of a nationwide conservation of built cultural heritage sites in Armenia. The survey was administered to Armenian nationals living in Armenia, and obtained extensive information about the respondents’ perceptions of the current state of conservation of monuments in Armenia, described the current situation, presented a hypothetical conservation program, elicited WTP for it, and queried individuals about what they thought would happen to monument sites in the absence of the government conservation program. We posit that respondents combined the information about the fate of monuments provided by the questionnaire with their prior beliefs, and that WTP for the good, or program, is likely to be affected by these updated beliefs. We propose a Bayesian updating model of prior beliefs, and empirically implement it with the data from our survey. We found that uncertainty about what would happen to monuments in the absence of the program results in lower WTP amounts.

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Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning A.

Volume (Year): 41 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 441-460

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Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:41:y:2009:i:2:p:441-460
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.pion.co.uk

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  1. Viscusi, W. Kip, 1985. "A Bayesian perspective on biases in risk perception," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 59-62.
  2. Soma Bhattacharya & Anna Alberini & Maureen Cropper, 2007. "The value of mortality risk reductions in Delhi, India," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 21-47, February.
  3. Jennifer Tkac, 1998. "The Effects of Information on Willingness-to-Pay Values of Endangered Species," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1214-1220.
  4. Ajzen, Icek & Brown, Thomas C. & Rosenthal, Lori H., 1996. "Information Bias in Contingent Valuation: Effects of Personal Relevance, Quality of Information, and Motivational Orientation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 43-57, January.
  5. David Throsby, 2003. "Determining the Value of Cultural Goods: How Much (or How Little) Does Contingent Valuation Tell Us?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 275-285, November.
  6. Viscusi, W Kip, 1989. " Prospective Reference Theory: Toward an Explanation of the Paradoxes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 235-63, September.
  7. Viscusi, W Kip & O'Connor, Charles J, 1984. "Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 942-56, December.
  8. Douglas Noonan, 2003. "Contingent Valuation and Cultural Resources: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Literature," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 159-176, November.
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