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Environmental Economics Sedef Akgüngör. Lecture 4. Measuring Benefits. Efficiency framework. Are we polluting too much? The answer depends on the MB of pollution reduction and MC of pollution reduction. Determining the level of optimal pollution level.

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Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

Environmental EconomicsSedef Akgüngör

Lecture 4

Measuring benefits

Measuring Benefits

  • Efficiency framework.

  • Are we polluting too much?

  • The answer depends on the MB of pollution reduction and MC of pollution reduction.

  • Determining the level of optimal pollution level.

  • Accurate measures of benefits and costs of pollution reduction.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • How much would you be willing to pay to save the snow leopard from extinction?

  • It may surprise you to know that asking questions like this is one of the best ways economists have for working out what the environment is worth.

  • The spontaneous answer you and others give to such a question may determine whether a forest is protected.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • The whole project of integrating environmental and economic goals seems to depend on one proposition: that it is possible and desirable to attach monetary values to separate parts of the environment

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • This proposition is being promoted by a group of economists, who call themselves environmental economists.

  • Responding to environmental crises that have emerged in recent years they have adapted traditional economic models and theories to take account of the environment.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • They believe that giving the environment a monetary value is the only way to ensure that decision-makers in government and business consider the environment when they made their decisions.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • These environmental economists of the neoclassical school argue that the market would protect the environment if everyone had to take account of these "externalities" or environmental costs. And what is the best way to do that?

  • By putting a price on the environment.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • They say that unless the environment is valued in monetary terms it will be neglected.

  • Managers and politicians are used to dealing with monetary values and can more easily relate to them.

  • For instance, the benefits from preserving a wetland can be compared with the benefits of filling it in and building a housing estate if each option is given a monetary value.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Once the various parts of the environment are given a price then all sorts of decisions are affected.

  • National accounts can be adjusted to take account of environmental resources lost in the process of generating wealth.

  • In this way measures such as GNP and GDP will give a better indication of the true wealth of a nation.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Similarly cost-benefit analyses used to decide whether government projects should go ahead can include quantified environmental costs and this means that governments will give more weight to environmental considerations when they decide if the project should go ahead.


Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Brundtland Comission (1987) and the Rio Convention Agenda 21 have focused on sustainable development issues and putting value on environmental improvements.



  • Market benefits

    • Cleaning up a river: Market benefits: increases in fish harvest, greater number of tourists, fewer medical expenses

  • Nonmarket benefits

    • Recreational use of the river; enjoyment of the diversity in the river.

  • The question is: How much money would the people be willing to pay?

Putting a monetary value on environmental goods

Putting a Monetary Value on Environmental Goods

  • Is one value better than no value?

  • Is some number better than no number?

Example brasil water sanitation example

Example: Brasil Water Sanitation Example

  • A study in Brasil used a valuation approach that focused on asking people either directly what they are willing to pay, or less directly what their choices would be if they were faced with certain prices for the service in question.

  • The question: “if you are required to pay X, would yu connect to the new suppy or use an alternative supply?”

Example korup national park in cameroon

Example: Korup National Park in Cameroon

  • Africa’s oldest rainforest. Over 1000 species of plant, 1300 animal species (60 occur in nowhere else and 170 are currently listed as endangered).

  • WWF initiated a programme for conservation

Korup project benefits and costs

Korup Project: Benefits and Costs

  • Cost of conservation Project:

    • Resource costs : -4475

    • Foregone forest costs

      • Timber: -353

      • Forest products: -223

        Total costs:: -5051

  • Benefits of Conservation Project

    • Direct use benefits

      • Use of forest products: 354

      • Tourism: 680

    • Indirect use benefits

      • Protection of fisheries: 1770

      • Flood control: 265

      • Soil productivity: 130

        Total benefits: 3199

        Net benefits: -1852

        Net benefits when the discount rate is 6% : $ 319

Valuing benefits for risk management

Valuing Benefits for Risk Management

  • The difficulties in estimating physical damages

  • If they can be estimated, the next step is to try to place a monetary value on them.

  • The complexities of assigning monetary value

Types of values

Types of Values

  • 1. Use value

  • 2. Option value

  • 3. Non use value

    Total WTP

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Use Value: Use value reflects the willingness to pay for direct use of the environmental resource.

  • to use something simply requires one of the senses to be active (sight, sound, touch, taste or smell).

  • Hearing noise pollution, seeing a grizzly bear, eating freshly caught fish, consuming water for drinking or swimming, taking in a vista while hiking and touching your feet to the trail, smelling flowers or smelling foul air.

  • All of these constitute some kind of use of natural resources and the environment. Distinguishing between active use (consumptive) and passive use (nonconsumptive)

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Option Value: Option value is the willingness to pay for the future ability to use the environment.

  • This is the value people place on having the option to use or ensuring something exists for potential future use.

  • Do you plan to go to Yellowstone National Park next summer? NO??

  • Would you ever like to go? Yes??

  • Place a value on the park to ensure it will still exist when one does want to go.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Nonuse Value: Nonuse value represents an individuals’ willingness to pay to preserve a resource that he or she will never use.

  • These values are often called existence values. This is a very different category of value and, of course, represents the most problematic as well as controversial to monetize.

  • These are less tangible values, but can be quite large.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Total Willingness to Pay (TWP): Total Willingness to Pay = Use Value + Option Value + Nonuse Value.

The concept of consumer surplus

The Concept of Consumer Surplus

  • Consumer surplus: Difference between what is one willing to pay and what one actually pays.

  • Willingness to pay for one extra unit of pollution reduction

  • Divergence between willingness to pay and willingness to accept.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • People are more willing to sacrifice to maintaion the existing quality of the environment than they are to improve environmental quality.

    • Prospect theory

  • Risk assessment and perception

Contingent valuation

Contingent Valuation

  • Asking people their WTP or WTA

  • Survey responses are contingent upon the questions aske

  • Sources of possible errors:

    • Potential for free riding

    • Strategic bias

    • Hypothetical nature

    • Embedding bias

Cv a sample survey

“This research is designed to more closely examine some of the trade-offs between industrial development, recreation, and the environment in the Lake Powell area. In connection with these objectives, I would like to ask you a few questions to see how you feel about environmental quality and its future in this area.

There are plans to construct a large electric generating plant north of Lake Powell. This plant is expected to be at least as large as the Navajo Plant on the south side of the lake.

Have you noticed the Navajo Plant or its smokestacks? _____ Yes ____No

CV: A Sample Survey

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Depending on exactly where and how a new plant is constructed, it could have a significant effect on the quality of the environment.

  • If the plant is built near the lake, it could be visible for many miles up and down the lake. If air pollution is not strictly controlled, visibility in the area may be significantly affected.

  • These photographs (interviewer shows photographs) are designed to show how a new powerplant on the north side of the lake might appear.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Situation A shows a possible plant site but assumes that the powerplant would be built at some distant location, not visible from the lake area.

  • In situation B the powerplant is easily seen from the lake, but emits very little smoke; visibility is virtually unaffected.

  • Situation C is intended to show the situation with the greatest impact on the environment of recreationists in the area. It is easily seen from the lake, and the smoke substantially reduces visibility.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Vacationers, of course, spend considerable amounts of money and time and effort to equip themselves with vehicles, boats, camping, and fishing gear, and for traveling to the destination of their choice. It is reasonable to assume that the amount of money you are willing to spend for a recreational experience depends, among other things, on the quality of the experience you expect.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • An improved experience would be expected to be of greater value to you than a degraded one. Since it does cost money to improve the environment, we would like to get an estimate of how much a better environment is worth to you.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • First, let’s assume that visitors to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are to finance environmental improvements by paying an entrance fee to be admitted into the recreation area. This will be the only way to finance such improvements in the area. Let’s also assume that all visitors to the area will pay the same daily fee as you, and all the money collected will be used to finance the environmental improvements shown in the photos.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Would you be willing to pay a $1.00 per day fee to prevent Situation C from occurring, thus preserving Situation A? $2.00 per day? (increment by $1.00 per day until a negative response is obtained, then decrease the bid by 25 cents per day until a positive response is obtained, and record the amount.) _________$/day

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Would you be willing to pay a $1.00 per day fee to prevent Situation B from occurring, thus preserving Situation A? (repeat bidding procedure)

  • (Answer only if a zero bid was recorded for either question above.) Did you bid zero because you believe that:________ the damage is not significant________ it is unfair or immoral to expect the victim of the damage to have to pay the costs of preventing the damage________ other


Travel cost

Travel Cost

  • Measure the benefits associated with recreational resources



  • A site used mainly for recreational fishing is threatened by development in the surrounding area.  Pollution and other impacts from this development could destroy the fish habitat at the site, resulting in a serious decline in, or total loss of, the site’s ability to provide recreational fishing services. 

  • Resource agency staff want to determine the value of programs or actions to protect fish habitat at the site.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • The first step involved with the TCM is the creation of a trip generating function. In an actual travel cost study, this stage could not take place before a certain amount of thought and research concerning the goals and form of the study, and a significant amount of data collection work.

Hedonic regression

Hedonic Regression

  • Changes in prices of related goods to infer the WTP for healthier environment.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • Take, for example, the housing market in two cities with different levels of air quality. Demand 1 represents the dirty air city and demand 2 represents the clean air city. The price differential, dP, is the marginal willingness to pay (in higher housing prices) for the difference in air quality.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • These price differentials can be estimated using regression methods. Imagine that you collect data on housing prices in a local market (these are recorded in the courthouse after the sale) and the characteristics of the house (square footage, lot size, etc.). You are also able to merge in other variables such as school district, local tax rates, and other “neighborhood” characteristics.

Risk assessment

Risk Assessment

  • The purpose of risk assessment is to determine if a substance is harmful to a given population and at what degree of exposure or concentration.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • In the context of public health, risk assessment is the process of quantifying the probability of a harmful effect to individuals or populations from certain human activities. In most countries, the use of specific chemicals, or the operations of specific facilities (e.g. power plants, manufacturing plants) is not allowed unless it can be shown that they do not increase the risk of death or illness above a specific threshold.

Environmental economics sedef akg ng r

  • The most typical four components in risk assessment are:

  • 1. Hazard identification: does human or ecological exposure cause harm?

  • 2. Dose-response assessment: what is the relationship between the strength and duration of exposure and the detrimental health effect. Age, gender and lifestyle are factored in at this stage as well as information on animal exposure.

  • 3. Exposure assessment: at what intensity is the population exposed to the agent and at what duration and frequency?

  • 4. Risk characterization: what is the overall effect of an agent on a given population based on 1-3 above.

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