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The Political Man and Contingent Valuation: Motives Do Count



In addition to his role as a consumer pursuing his own interests, an individual may also regard himself as an ethical observer, judging matters from society's point of view. It is not clear which of these possibly conflicting roles respondents in contingent valuation studies take on. This leads to ambiguities in the interpretation of reported willingness to pay. I formalize this problem using a simple model of respondents' behaviour, based on the concept of subjective social welfare functions. The model may provide one explanation to several puzzling phenomena often found in contingent valuation studies; such as large discrepancies between willingness to pay and willingness to accept, frequent occurrence of "outliers" willing to pay extremely large amounts, and certain kinds of framing effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Karine Nyborg, 1996. "The Political Man and Contingent Valuation: Motives Do Count," Discussion Papers 180, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:180

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    Cited by:

    1. Karine Nyborg & Inger Spangen, 2000. "Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Democratic Ideal," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 26, pages 83-93.

    More about this item


    Environmental valuation; social welfare judgements; non-unique preference orderings.;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q21 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices


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