Analyzing public preferences and valuations for forested wetlands in Rhode Island: Comparisons of real -money and hypothetical survey presentations

Laurienne Whinstanley Newell, University of Rhode Island


This dissertation reports on choice experiments where respondents state their preferences for different wetland parcels. The Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) is used to approximate real-money willingness to pay (WTP) for environmental goods. This dissertation consists of three manuscripts and examines how introducing real-money choices that carry real monetary and amenity benefit consequences, affect models of respondents' preferences and valuation based on stated preference questions. Manuscript 1 reports on a choice experiment concerning stated preferences for preserving different wetland parcels. The study used hypothetical surveys to measure respondents' preferences, but in one survey version respondents expected and received a follow-up question involving real monetary payments. The estimated model of stated-preference differs between these two hypothetical survey data sets. Respondents may reverse their preferences for non-monetary attributes, such as public access to the parcel as related to presentation. Results suggest examining the concepts of marginal validity and gross validity may be critical to understanding biases in contingent valuation. ^ In manuscript 2, respondents are given either a real-money presentation or a hypothetical-money presentation where the hypothetical surveys comprise two questions while the real-money surveys has one question. The real-money results are compared to the results from the hypothetical-money presentation. Respondents who received the hypothetical-money survey presentation, showed a preference function that was statistically different from those individuals who received a real-money survey presentation. Although the marginal utility of income for both presentations is statistically equivalent, we find that at the margin, WTP is statistically insensitive to survey presentation although gross WTP is sensitive to the presentation that respondents receive. ^ In the third manuscript, we use some insights developed in experimental economics with respect to the provision of threshold public goods. A key obstacle has been that asking about willingness to pay and asking respondents to make an actual payment for their stated willingness to pay runs into the free-riding problem. Experimental economists have used money-back guarantees (MBG) and rebates of excess collections to reduce the free-ridership. We implement these methods in our field survey involving land conservation. ^

Subject Area

Agriculture, Forestry and Wildlife|Economics, General|Economics, Agricultural|Environmental Sciences

Recommended Citation

Laurienne Whinstanley Newell, "Analyzing public preferences and valuations for forested wetlands in Rhode Island: Comparisons of real -money and hypothetical survey presentations" (2003). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3103715.