The Role of Participation in CVM Survey Design: Evidence from a Tap Water Improvement Program in Northern Thailand

In the environmental economics literature results from contingent valuation mail surveys (MS) are usually considered less reliable than results from face-to-face surveys (FtF). This is mostly due to low response rates and self-selection effects of the respondents. However, MS are much less costly than FtF surveys so that there exists a strong need to make MS more reliable in order to save costs for environmental policy makers. This paper proposes a participatory procedure of survey design in order to improve MS questionnaires. In an empirical study of water quality improvement it is demonstrated that this procedure yields results identical to those of a FtF survey. In contrast to focus groups commonly applied in contingent valuation, we are able to show with our empirical study that much better results can be obtained by conducting group meetings with respondents from a preceding mail survey. Their pre-information of the project and experience with the questionnaire as well as their high motivation to get involved proved to be advantageous for efficient and productive group discussions. Our participatory questionnaire design resulted in a doubling of the response rate and a significant reduction of respondent self-selection. Further, alternative willingness-to-pay elicitation question formats were tested in the context of Thailand. For the dichotomous choice format strong anchoring and "yea"-saying effects were detected so that the use of this format cannot be recommended here. In contrast, the payment card format was found to perform well in this study.

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Conference Paper/ Presentation
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JEL Codes:
D6; H4; L3; Q25; Q51
Series Statement:
Poster Paper

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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