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Abstract

This paper argues that the widespread belief that discrete contingent valuation (CV) questions yield substantially larger estimates of the mean (and the median) willingness to pay (WTP) for nonmarket environmental resources in comparison to estimates from open-ended CV questions is unfounded. A set of Monte Carlo experiments estimate the factors influencing the performance of WTP estimates based on discrete response models. Most of the error in the WTP estimates arises from the specification errors that are common in most of the empirical models used in the literature. These experiments suggest models based on choices where WTP is dominated by non use (or passive use) values are likely to have smaller errors than where large use values influence these decisions.

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