Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 8 No. 4 (Fall 1994)


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The Contingent Valuation Debate: Why Economists Should Care

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Portney, Paul R. 1994. "The Contingent Valuation Debate: Why Economists Should Care." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 8(4): 3-17.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.8.4.3


The contingent valuation method, wherein sample surveys are used to elicit individuals' willingness to pay for certain types of policies, is playing an important role in government decision-making. The most prominent applications are in the valuation of damages to natural resources from oil spills. But the contingent valuation method will be more important still if it is used to expand the range of impacts included in applied benefit-cost analyses. This paper explains the origins of the contingent valuation method and the route through which it came to be the center of both an academic and a legal debate.

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Portney, Paul R. (Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.)

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Q26: Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources


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