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Willingness to Pay for Basic Research: A Contingent Valuation Experiment on the Large Hadron Collider

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  • Gelsomina CATALANO
  • Massimo FLORIO
  • Francesco GIFFONI

Abstract

An increasing number of countries and institutions are investing in large-scale research infrastructures (RIs) and in basic research. Scientific discoveries, which are expected thanks to RIs, may have a non-use value, in analogy with environmental and cultural public goods. This paper provides, for the first time, an empirical estimation of the willingness to pay (WTP) for discoveries in basic research by the general public. We focus on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle accelerator worldwide, where in 2012 the Higgs boson was discovered. Nobody knows the practical value of such discovery, beyond knowledge per se. The findings of our study are based on a dichotomous choice contingent valuation (CV) survey carried out in line with the NOAA guidelines. The survey involved 1,022 undergraduate students enrolled in more than 30 different degrees (including the humanities) at five universities located in four countries (Italy, France, Spain, UK). We ask two main research questions: Which are the determinants of the WTP for the LHC discoveries? What is the average contribution that the respondents would be willing to pay? Our results confirm that income, interest and attitudes towards basic research are positively associated with the WTP, while other potential explanatory variables play a limited role. The estimated mean of WTP for basic research in particle physics is EUR 7.7 per person una-tantum. Although this is a small amount compared to other CV studies for environmental and cultural goods, it points to positive social attitudes for basic science as a public good.

Suggested Citation

  • Gelsomina CATALANO & Massimo FLORIO & Francesco GIFFONI, 2016. "Willingness to Pay for Basic Research: A Contingent Valuation Experiment on the Large Hadron Collider," Departmental Working Papers 2016-03, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2016-03
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    Cited by:

    1. Rousseau, Sandra & Catalano, Giuseppe & Daraio, Cinzia, 2021. "Can we estimate a monetary value of scientific publications?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(1).
    2. Gschwandtner, Adelina & Jang, Cheul & McManus, Richard, 2018. "Improving Drinking Water Quality in South Korea: A Choice Experiment," 92nd Annual Conference, April 16-18, 2018, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 273472, Agricultural Economics Society.
    3. Massimo FLORIO & Francesco GIFFONI, 2017. "Willingness-to-Pay for Science as a Public Good: A Contingent Valuation Experiment," Departmental Working Papers 2017-17, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Research infrastructures; Cost-benefit analysis; Non-Use Value; Existence value; Contingent Valuation; Large Hadron Collider;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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