A Meta-analysis of Hypothetical Bias in Stated Preference Valuation
Cite this article as: Murphy, J.J., Allen, P.G., Stevens, T.H. et al. Environ Resource Econ (2005) 30: 313. doi:10.1007/s10640-004-3332-z Abstract
Individuals are widely believed to overstate their economic valuation of a good by a factor of two or three. This paper reports the results of a meta-analysis of hypothetical bias in 28 stated preference valuation studies that report monetary willingness-to-pay and used the same mechanism for eliciting both hypothetical and actual values. The papers generated 83 observations with a median ratio of hypothetical to actual value of only 1.35, and the distribution has severe positive skewness. We find that a choice-based elicitation mechanism is important in reducing bias. We provide some evidence that the use of student subjects may be a source of bias, but since this variable is highly correlated with group experimental settings, firm conclusions cannot be drawn. There is some weak evidence that bias increases when public goods are being valued, and that some calibration methods may be effective at reducing bias. However, results are quite sensitive to model specification, which will remain a problem until a comprehensive theory of hypothetical bias is developed.
Keywords contingent valuation experiments hypothetical bias meta-analysis stated preference
JEL classifications: C9, H41, Q26, Q28
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