, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 421-446

Understanding Heterogeneous Preferences in Random Utility Models: A Latent Class Approach

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Abstract

A finite mixture approach toconditional logit models is developed in whichlatent classes are used to promoteunderstanding of systematic heterogeneity. The model is applied to wilderness recreationin which a branded choice experiment involvingchoice of one park from a demand system wasadministered to a sample of recreationists. The basis of membership in the classes orsegments in the sample involved attitudinalmeasures of motivations for taking a trip, aswell as their stated preferences overwilderness park attributes. The econometricanalysis suggested that four classes of peopleexist in the sample. Using the model toexamine welfare measures of some hypotheticalpolicy changes identified markedly differentwelfare effects than the standard singlesegment model, and provided insight into thedifferential impact of alternative policies.