The influence of cultural identity on the WTP to protect natural resources: some empirical evidence
This paper shows that cultural identity may have considerable influence on the WTP to protect natural resources. The Basque Country, the region with the highest ethnic homogeneity in Europe, serves as an example to illustrate how important this issue can be in the environmental valuation of natural resources. The rationale for this influence may be found in the deep roots of the Basque culture, a culture where amalurra (mother Earth), i.e. the natural environment, has a central role, as studies from diverse disciplines such as anthropology, psychology and political science have shown. Simulated full distribution of the WTP to protect a Basque natural area using a random parameter logit model reveals that mean marginal WTP to protect its environmental attributes is approximately 60% higher if the cultural identity of the respondent is Basque. To our knowledge, this is the first application to show the influence of cultural identity on the WTP to protect natural resources. Our findings have some methodological and policy implications. On the one hand, failure to take into account cultural identitary issues could result in significantly biased results in benefit transfer applications. On the other hand, policies aimed at conservation natural resources should consider the cultural context in which they will be implemented.
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