Environmental Economics

Experimental Approaches for Valuing Environmental Commodities, Volume II of Methods Development in Measuring Benefits of Environmental Improvements

This report considers experimental or contingent valuation approaches to valuing air and water quality improvements, paying particular attention to the benefits of improving visibility in national parks, improving national water quality, reducing risks of exposure to hazardous waste, and reducing ambient ozone concentrations in the South Coast Air Basin of California. On all of these specific studies, four general issues are explored. These are (1) validation of the contingent valuation method of benefit estimation, (2) issues associated with aggregation over attributes of commodities, over commodities, over geography, and over individuals, (3) individuals' perceptions of the commodity to be valued, and (4) whether contingent valuation measures are truly expenditures for marginal changes in environmental conditions.
The report contains the following chapters:

    Overview
    The National Parks Visibility Experiment
    The National Water Quality Experiment
    The Hazardous Waste Experiment
    The Ozone Experiment.
These are followed by the following appendices:
    A. Survey Questionnaires: Mail and Interviewer
    C. Survey Questionnaires and Answer Sheets
    D. Chapter IV: Exhibits and Figures
    E. RTI Survey Areas for the Houston Experiment
    F. Data from the Three-City Policy Bid Experiment.
This study was part of a larger research effort that included a number of projects focusing on estimating the benefits of pollution control. Other volumes in this series of report can be quickly accessed through the list of series titles above, as follows: Volume I, EE-0272A, is the Executive Summary for the entire research project. This report is Volume II of the series. Volume III, EE-0272C, updates earlier efforts to estimate the benefits of controlling acid deposition. Volume IV, EE-0272D, addresses methods for valuing the economic impacts of air pollution on ecosystems, providing a theoretical model and an empirical illustration using contingent valuation of the condition of a forest stock.
Volumes V, VI, and VII address questions related to air pollution impacts on human health. Volume V, EE-0272E, uses National Academy of Sciences data on twins to examine the effects of elevated levels of sulfur dioxide and total suspended particulates on symptoms including chest pain, cough, and shortness of breath. Volume VI, EE-0272F, develops a new methodology for estimating the benefits of reduced human morbidity stemming from improved air pollution control and tests that methodology using data from adult residents of St. Louis, MO. Volume VII, EE-0272G, presents a collection of three papers that assess the economic benefits of controlling pollutants, such as lead, that affect the health of children.
Finally, the original collection of studies included a non-technical discussion of recent developments in estimating the benefits of environmental improvements. A more recent version of that report is contained in the database as EE-0278A.