Environmental Economics

Measuring the Benefits of Clean Air and Water, Volume I of Methods Development for Environmental Control Benefits Assessment

This volume examines the state of the art regarding benefits assessment, including such tools as bidding games, surveys, property value studies, wage differentials, risk reduction evaluation, and mortality and morbidity cost estimation. It discusses methods for quantitatively estimating benefits derived from the maintenance or improvement of air and water quality. It is a nontechnical discussion of the work of a number of scholars located at Resources for the Future, the University of Wyoming, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Chicago. The focus of these efforts was to develop improved methods for the economic evaluation of environmental improvements or maintenance. The study centered on two broad approaches. The first involves methods based on actual behavior with respect to environmental goods. These include travel to recreational opportunities of varying quality, prices paid for houses in environments of different quality, decisions about farm crops depending upon how they are affected by air pollution. The latter are benefits to people who have a preference for environmental quality in situations in which they do not actually participate. For example, people may value good water quality for the nation as a whole even though they do not recreate in natural waters.