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Improving the Performance of Contingent Valuation Studies in Developing Countries


  • Dale Whittington

    () (Departments of Environmental Sciences & Engineering, Public Policy, and City & Regional Planning, University of North Carolina)


This paper discusses three main reasons why so many of the contingent valuation studies conducted in developing countries are so bad. First, the contingent valuation surveys themselves are often poorly administered and executed. Second, contingent valuation scenarios are often very poorly crafted. Third, few CV studies conducted in developing countries are designed to test whether some of the key assumptions that the reseacher made were the right ones, and whether the results are robust with respect to simple variations in research design and survey method. The paper concludes that research on stated preference methods in developing countries is critically important to the successfull implementation of these methods because (1) there is no empirical evidence to suggest that rapid, "streamlined" CV surveys yield reliable, accurate results, and (2) there is a significant risk that the current pust for cheaper, simpler CV studies could discredit the methodology itself. Moreover, the policy debates to which CV researchers are asked to contribute are often of tremendous importance to the well-being of households in developing countries. Because the costs of policy mistakes can prove tragic, it is critical that CV researchers push for excellence in this research enterprise and that funding agencies think more carefully about the value of policy-relevant information in the fields in which the contingent valuation method is being used to study household preferences and behavior (e.g., water and sanitation services, urban air pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, biodiversity, watershed management, ecosystem valuation, vaccines for the poor).

Suggested Citation

  • Dale Whittington, 2007. "Improving the Performance of Contingent Valuation Studies in Developing Countries," EEPSEA Special and Technical Paper sp200709s1, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised Sep 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:eep:tpaper:sp200709s1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Whittington, Dale, 1998. "Administering contingent valuation surveys in developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 21-30, January.
    2. Carson, Richard & Flores, Nicholas E. & Hanemann, W. Michael, 1998. "Sequencing and Valuing Public Goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 314-323, November.
    3. Cropper, Mauren L. & Haile, Mitiku & Lampieti, Julian A. & Poulos, Christine & Whittington, Dale, 2000. "The value of preventing malaria in Tembien, Ethiopia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2273, The World Bank.
    4. Davis, Jennifer & Whittington, Dale, 1998. ""Participatory" Research for Development Projects: A Comparison of the Community Meeting and Household Survey Techniques," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 73-94, October.
    5. Richard T. Carson, 2011. "Contingent Valuation," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2489.
    6. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
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