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Do Environmental Services Buyers Prefer Differentiated Rates? A Case Study from the Colombian Andes


  • Moreno-Sanchez, Rocio del Pilar
  • Maldonado, Jorge Higinio
  • Wunder, Sven
  • Borda, Carlos Andres


Flat user fees in payment for environmental services (PES) schemes promote administrative ease, and are sometimes perceived as egalitarian. However, when environmental service (ES) buyers are heterogeneous in their income and water consumption levels, this may not be optimal, as total payments become too low and services are under-supplied. This paper identifies ES buyer preferences and estimates their willingness to pay (WTP) differentiated fees in an ongoing PES initiative in an Andean watershed in Colombia. Small, flat user payments have recently been introduced to implement incipient watershed protection upstream. Environmental service users fall into two highly heterogeneous categories: smallholder peasants and owners of recreational houses. We performed a contingent valuation analysis in a representative stratified sample of 218 user households. For improved water services, ES buyers on average were willing to pay a monthly US$1 premium over current flat PES rates. Owners of recreational houses were willing to pay about US$1.50 more; smallholders only US$0.5. 85% of ES buyers also agree to pay differentiated fees. Of these, 41% would prefer fees differentiated by water consumption, 23% by household income, 30% criteria combination, and 6% by other criteria. Spatial variables, such as distance to the water distribution point and to the town center, importantly influenced WTP. The results may help designing users-driven PES schemes in accordance with efficiency and equity objectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Moreno-Sanchez, Rocio del Pilar & Maldonado, Jorge Higinio & Wunder, Sven & Borda, Carlos Andres, 2009. "Do Environmental Services Buyers Prefer Differentiated Rates? A Case Study from the Colombian Andes," Documentos CEDE Series 91171, Universidad de Los Andes, Economics Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ulaedd:91171
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.91171

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Grieg-Gran, Maryanne & Porras, Ina & Wunder, Sven, 2005. "How can market mechanisms for forest environmental services help the poor? Preliminary lessons from Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1511-1527, September.
    2. Wünscher, Tobias & Engel, Stefanie & Wunder, Sven, 2008. "Spatial targeting of payments for environmental services: A tool for boosting conservation benefits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 822-833, May.
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    More about this item


    Community/Rural/Urban Development; Demand and Price Analysis; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement


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