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Definitions of Biodiversity and Measures of Its Value

  • Simpson, R. David
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    The destruction of natural habitats has prompted concerns about the loss of biological diversity. Regrettably, however, there is no consensus among either biologists or economists on the most meaningful measures of biodiversity. Fundamentally different definitions are useful in asking fundamentally different questions. Considerable attention has been given to the value of diversity in search models. A measure of “aggregate variability” is appropriate to such models. Values derived from search models tend to be well behaved; they exhibit diminishing returns in diversity. In contrast, a definition of diversity as “relative abundance” is more appropriate to more complex objective functions. Values derived in these models are not necessarily well behaved. The differences between diversity values arising in search models and those arising from more general objectives are demonstrated. An example shows that “consistency tests” applied to measures of valuation may not be useful when diversity per se is being valued.

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    Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-02-62.

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    Date of creation: 02 Nov 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-02-62
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    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 163-85, February.
    2. Rausser, Gordon C. & Small, Arthur A., 2000. "Valuing Research Leads: Bioprospecting and the Conservation of Genetic Resources," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt4t56m5b8, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    3. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S71-102, October.
    4. Diamond, Peter, 1996. "Testing the Internal Consistency of Contingent Valuation Surveys," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 337-347, May.
    5. Nehring,K. und C.Puppe, 1999. "A Theory of Diversity," Discussion Paper Serie A 605, University of Bonn, Germany.
    6. Krugman, Paul R, 1987. "Is Free Trade Passe?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 131-44, Fall.
    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L., 1992. "Valuing public goods: The purchase of moral satisfaction," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 57-70, January.
    8. Gardner M. Brown & Jason F. Shogren, 1998. "Economics of the Endangered Species Act," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 3-20, Summer.
    9. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    10. Paul Krugman, 1998. "Space: The Final Frontier," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 161-174, Spring.
    11. Hayri Önal, 1997. "A computationally convenient diversity measure: Theory and application," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 9(4), pages 409-427, June.
    12. Solow Andrew & Polasky Stephen & Broadus James, 1993. "On the Measurement of Biological Diversity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 60-68, January.
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