Accounting for Cultural Dimensions in Estimating the Value of Coastal Zone Ecosystem Services using International Benefit Transfer
Values for non-market goods can be expected to be sensitive to variations in the cultural contexts of beneficiaries. However, little progress has been made to date in adapting benefit transfer procedures for cultural variations. Using information from a study that ranked 62 societies with respect to nine attributes of their cultures, we develop an index that is then used to re-weight multiple coastal ecosystem service value estimates. We examine whether these culturally-adjusted Benefit Transfer (BT) estimates are statistically different than simply transferring the income-adjusted mean transfer estimates for each coastal ecosystem service from international study sites to the policy site. We find that once differences in income levels have been accounted for, the differences in cultural dimensions between study and policy sites actually have little impact on the magnitude of our transfer estimates. This is not a surprising result given that the majority of the study site estimates are derived from countries that share many ethnic, linguistic and other cultural similarities to the policy site. However, benefit adjustments based on cultural factors could have a much higher impacts in settings different to that investigated here.
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