Departing from standard applications of utility theory where only outcomes matter, we investigate whether past states of an environmental medium (lost state versus net gain) and alternative causes (human cause versus natural cause) of an environmental problem affect respondents’ interest in and willingness-to-pay to improve it. We use a quasi-experimental survey over a random sample of citizens in a small region of France. Respondents stated their perceived value of solving an environmental problem related to soil degradation. We find that respondents’ interest is somewhat affected by the combination of past states and alternative causes whereas results on stated willingness-to-pay are inconclusive. Our results suggest that loss aversion can be mitigated depending on the presence and nature of the cause of the environmental problem in question.
Do past states and causes of soil degradation affect interest and stated willingness-to-pay values? Evidence from a quasi-experimental survey
8 July 2015