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Deriving welfare measures from discrete choice experiments: inconsistency between current methods and random utility and welfare theory

  • Emily Lancsar

    (Business School (Economics) and Centre for Health Services Research, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

  • Elizabeth Savage

    (CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)

Discrete choice experiments (DCEs) are being used increasingly in health economics to elicit preferences for products and programs. The results of such experiments have been used to calculate measures of welfare or more specifically, respondents' 'willingness to pay' (WTP) for products and programs and their 'marginal willingness to pay' (MWTP) for the attributes that make up such products and programs. In this note we show that the methods currently used to derive measures of welfare from DCEs in the health economics literature are not consistent with random utility theory (RUT), or with microeconomic welfare theory more generally. The inconsistency with welfare theory is an important limitation on the use of such WTP estimates in cost-benefit analyses. We describe an alternative method of deriving measures of welfare (compensating variation) from DCEs that is consistent with RUT and is derived using welfare theory. We demonstrate its use in an empirical application to derive the WTP for asthma medication and compare it to the results elicited from the method currently used in the health economics literature. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.870
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2004)
Issue (Month): 9 ()
Pages: 901-907

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:13:y:2004:i:9:p:901-907
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Harvey S. Rosen & Kenneth A. Small, 1979. "Applied Welfare Economics with Discrete Choice Models," NBER Working Papers 0319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Trajtenberg, Manuel, 1989. "The Welfare Analysis of Product Innovations, with an Application to Computed Tomography Scanners," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 444-79, April.
  3. F. Reed Johnson & Melissa Ruby Banzhaf & William H. Desvousges, 2000. "Willingness to pay for improved respiratory and cardiovascular health: a multiple-format, stated-preference approach," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 295-317.
  4. Dorte Gyrd-Hansen & Jes S�gaard, 2001. "Analysing public preferences for cancer screening programmes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(7), pages 617-634.
  5. 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.
  6. Mandy Ryan & Jenny Hughes, 1997. "Using Conjoint Analysis to Assess Women's Preferences for Miscarriage Management," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(3), pages 261-273.
  7. 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.
  8. Scott, Anthony, 2001. "Eliciting GPs' preferences for pecuniary and non-pecuniary job characteristics," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 329-347, May.
  9. Propper, Carol, 1990. "Contingent Valuation of Time Spent on NHS Waiting Lists," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(400), pages 193-99, Supplemen.
  10. Emily Lancsar, 2002. "Deriving welfare measures from stated preference discrete choice modelling experiments, CHERE Discussion Paper No 48," Discussion Papers 48, CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney.
  11. Hurley, Jeremiah, 2000. "An overview of the normative economics of the health sector," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 55-118 Elsevier.
  12. Fernando San Miguel & Mandy Ryan & Emma McIntosh, 2000. "Applying conjoint analysis in economic evaluations: an application to menorrhagia," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(7), pages 823-833.
  13. Carol Propper, 1995. "The Disutility of Time Spent on the United Kingdom's National Health Service Waiting Lists," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(4), pages 677-700.
  14. Ryan, Mandy & Wordsworth, Sarah, 2000. "Sensitivity of Willingness to Pay Estimates to the Level of Attributes in Discrete Choice Experiments," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 47(5), pages 504-24, November.
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