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Valuing Public Goods Using Happiness Data: The Case of Air Quality

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Abstract

This paper describes and implements a method for estimating the average marginal value of a time-varying local public good: air quality. It uses the General Social Survey (GSS), which asks thousands of people in various U.S. locations how happy they are, along with other demographic and attitude questions. These data are matched with the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality System (AQS) to find the level of pollution in those locations on the dates the survey questions were asked. People with higher incomes in any given year and location report higher levels of happiness, and people interviewed on days when air pollution was worse than the local seasonal average report lower levels of happiness. Combining these two concepts, I derive the average marginal rate of substitution between income and air quality - a compensating variation for air pollution.

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  • Arik Levinson, 2009. "Valuing Public Goods Using Happiness Data: The Case of Air Quality," Working Papers gueconwpa~09-09-03, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~09-09-03
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    willingness to pay; stated well-being; pollution; compensating variation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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