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Conflicts and Choices in Biodiversity Preservation


  • Andrew Metrick
  • Martin L. Weitzman


The purpose of this article is to examine the preservation of biodiversity as an economic problem. Using a very simple prototype model, we discuss how to include diversity in the objective function and how to develop a simple cost-benefit ranking criterion for ordering priorities. Then we analyze data on endangered species preservation decisions in the U S. to shed light on the conformity of theory with practice. A basic theme is that the core issue in biodiversity preservation today is the fuzziness of the objective function.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Metrick & Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "Conflicts and Choices in Biodiversity Preservation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1836, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1836

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simpson, R David & Sedjo, Roger A & Reid, John W, 1996. "Valuing Biodiversity for Use in Pharmaceutical Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 163-185, February.
    2. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "The Noah's Ark Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1279-1298, November.
    3. Martin L. Weitzman, 1992. "On Diversity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 363-405.
    4. Polasky Stephen & Solow Andrew R., 1995. "On the Value of a Collection of Species," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 298-303, November.
    5. Martin L. Weitzman, 1993. "What to Preserve? An Application of Diversity Theory to Crane Conservation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 157-183.
    6. Andrew Metrick & Martin L. Weitzman, 1996. "Patterns of Behavior in Endangered Species Preservation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(1), pages 1-16.
    7. Stephen Polasky & Andrew Solow & James Broadus, 1993. "Searching for uncertain benefits and the conservation of biological diversity," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(2), pages 171-181, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law


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