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Robust Benefit Function Transfer: A Bayesian Model Averaging Approach

Author

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  • Roberto Leon-Gonzalez

    ()

  • Riccardo Scarpa

Abstract

A Benefit Function Transfer obtains estimates of Willingness-to-Pay (WTP) for the evaluation of a given policy at a site by combining existing information from different study sites. This has the advantage that more efficient estimates are obtained, but it relies on the assumption that the heterogeneity between sites is appropriately captured in the Benefit Transfer model. A more expensive alternative to estimate WTP is to analyse only data from the policy site in question while ignoring information from other sites. We make use of the fact that these two choices can be viewed as a model selection problem and extend the set of models to allow for the hypothesis that the benefit function is only applicable to a subset of sites. We show how Bayesian Model Averaging (BMA) techniques can be used to optimally combine information from all models. The Bayesian algorithm searches for the set of sites that can form the basis for estimating a Benefit function and reveals whether such information can be transferred to new sites for which only a small dataset is available. We illustrate the method with a sample of 42 forests from U.K. and Ireland. We find that BMA benefit function transfer produces reliable estimates and can increase about 8 times the information content of a small sample when the forest is ‘poolable’.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Leon-Gonzalez & Riccardo Scarpa, 2007. "Robust Benefit Function Transfer: A Bayesian Model Averaging Approach," Discussion Papers in Economics 07/01, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  • Handle: RePEc:lec:leecon:07/1
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    File URL: http://www.le.ac.uk/economics/research/RePEc/lec/leecon/dp07-1.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arana, Jorge E. & Leon, Carmelo J., 2005. "Flexible mixture distribution modeling of dichotomous choice contingent valuation with heterogenity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 170-188, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthews, D.I. & Hutchinson, W.G. & Scarpa, R., 2009. "Testing the stability of the benefit transfer function for discrete choice contingent valuation data," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1-2), pages 131-146, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Benefit Transfer; Bayesian Model Averaging; Exchangeability; Non-market Valuation; Panel Data;

    JEL classification:

    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • Q23 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Forestry
    • Q26 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources

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