Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 227–246

Meta-Analysis, Benefit Transfer, and Methodological Covariates: Implications for Transfer Error



Meta-regression models in the valuation literature demonstrate that willingness to pay estimates vary according to methodological factors. Neither theory nor characteristics of policy sites dictate the treatment of associated covariates within benefit transfer, however, and the literature provides few insights into potential impacts of common empirical treatments. This paper introduces a method to systematically characterize the impact of methodological variables on transfer error. Using a repeated leave-one-out convergent validity framework, the analysis contrasts errors for a hypothetical ideal case in which correct methodological covariate treatments are known to the realistic case in which the correct treatment is unknown. Results indicate that the common assumption of mean values for methodological covariates leads to only a modest increase in mean transfer error relative to that found in the hypothetical ideal case.


Benefits transfer Meta-regression model MRM Valuation Willingness to pay Recreational fishing Non-market value 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bateman IJ, Jones AP (2003) Contrasting conventional with multi-level modeling approaches to meta-analysis: expectation consistency in U.K. woodland recreation values. Land Econ 79(2): 235–258 doi:10.2307/3146869 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bergstrom JC, DeCivita P (1999) Status of benefit transfer in the United States and Canada: a review. Can J Agric Econ 47(1): 79–87 doi:10.1111/j.1744-7976.1999.tb00218.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bergstrom JC, Taylor LO (2006) Using meta-analysis for benefits transfer: theory and practice. Ecol Econ 60(2): 351–360 doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.06.015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bijmolt THA, Pieters FGM (2001) Meta-analysis in marketing when studies contain multiple measurements. Mark Lett 12(2): 157–169 doi:10.1023/A:1011117103381 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bockstael NE, Strand IE (1987) The effect of common sources of regression error on benefit estimates. Land Econ 63(1): 11–20 doi:10.2307/3146652 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boyle KJ, Poe GL, Bergstrom J (1994) What do we know about groundwater values? Preliminary implications from a meta-analysis of contingent valuation studies. Am J Agric Econ 76(5): 1055–1061 doi:10.2307/1243391 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brander LM, van Beukering P, Cesar H (2007) The recreational value of coral reefs: a meta-analysis. Ecol Econ 63(1): 209–218 doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.11.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brouwer R (2002) Environmental value transfer: state of the art and future prospects. In: Florax RJGM, Nijkamp P, Willis KG (eds) Comparative environmental economics assessment. Edward Elgar, Chelthenham, pp 90–114Google Scholar
  9. Brouwer R, Spaninks FA (1999) The validity of environmental benefits transfer: further empirical testing. Environ Resour Econ 14(1): 95–117 doi:10.1023/A:1008377604893 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brouwer R, Langford IH, Bateman IJ, Turner RK (1999) A meta-analysis of wetland contingent valuation studies. Regional Environ Change 1(1): 47–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Button KJ (2002) An evaluation of the potential of meta-analysis in value and function transfer. In: Florax RJGM, Nijkamp P, Willis KG(eds) Comparative environmental economics assessment. Edward Elger, Chelthenham, pp 90–116Google Scholar
  12. Carmines EG, Zeller RA (1979) Reliability and validity assessment. Series: quantitative applications in the social sciences No. 17. Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  13. Downing M, Ozuna T (1996) Testing the reliability of the benefit function transfer approach. J Environ Econ Manage 30(3): 316–322 doi:10.1006/jeem.1996.0021 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Efron B, Tibshirani RJ (1993) An introduction to the bootstrap. Chapman and Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Engel S (2002) Benefit function transfer versus meta-analysis as policy tool: a comparison. In: Florax RJGM, Nijkamp P, Willis KG(eds) Comparative environmental economics assessment. Edward Elger, Chelthenham, pp 133–153Google Scholar
  16. Glass GV (1976) Primary, secondary, and meta-analysis of research. Educ Res 5(10): 3–8Google Scholar
  17. Johnston RJ (2007) Choice experiments, site similarity and benefits transfer. Environ Resour Econ 38(3): 331–351 doi:10.1007/s10640-006-9073-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnston RJ, Duke JM (2008) Benefit transfer equivalence tests with non-normal distributions. Environ Resour Econ 41(1): 1–23 doi:10.1007/s10640-007-9172-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnston RJ, Besedin EY, Wardwell RF (2003) Modeling relationships between use and nonuse values for surface water quality: a meta-analysis. Water Resour Res 39(12): 1363–1372 doi:10.1029/2003WR002649 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Johnston RJ, Besedin EY, Iovanna R, Miller C, Wardwell R, Ranson M (2005) Systematic variation in willingness to pay for aquatic resource improvements and implications for benefit transfer: a meta-analysis. Can J Agric Econ 53(2–3): 221–248 doi:10.1111/j.1744-7976.2005.04018.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johnston RJ, Besedin EY, Ranson MH (2006) Characterizing the effects of valuation methodology in function-based benefits transfer. Ecol Econ 60(2): 407–419 doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.03.020 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Johnston RJ, Ranson MH, Besedin EY, Helm EC (2006) What determines willingness to pay per fish? A meta-analysis of recreational fishing values. Mar Resour Econ 21(1): 1–32Google Scholar
  23. Kirchhoff S, Colby BG, LaFrance JT (1997) Evaluating the performance of benefit transfer: an empirical inquiry. J Environ Econ Manage 33(1): 75–93 doi:10.1006/jeem.1996.0981 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lindhjem H, Navrud S (2008) How reliable are meta-analyses for international benefit transfers. Ecol Econ 66(2–3): 425–435 doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2007.10.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Loomis JB (1992) The evolution of a more rigorous approach to benefit transfer: benefit function transfer. Water Resour Res 38(3): 701–705 doi:10.1029/91WR02596 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Markowski MA, Boyle KJ, Bishop RC, Larson DM, Paterson RW (2002) A cautionary note on interpreting meta-analyses. Unpublished paper, Industrial Economics, Inc.Google Scholar
  27. Moeltner K, Boyle KJ, Paterson RW (2007) Meta-analysis and benefit transfer for resource valuation—addressing classical challenges with Bayesian modeling. J Environ Econ Manage 53(2): 250–269 doi:10.1016/j.jeem.2006.08.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nelson JP, Kennedy PE (2008) The use (and abuse) of meta-analysis in environmental and resource economics: an assessment. Working paper. Department of Economics, Penn State University, University ParkGoogle Scholar
  29. Poe GL, Boyle KJ, Bergstrom JC (2001) A preliminary meta-analysis of contingent values for ground water revisited. In: Bergstrom JC, Boyle KJ, Poe GL(eds) The economic value of water quality. Edward Elgar Publishers, Northampton, pp 137–162Google Scholar
  30. Poe GL, Giraud KL, Loomis JB (2005) Computational methods for measuring the difference in empirical distributions. Am J Agric Econ 87(2): 353–365 doi:10.1111/j.1467-8276.2005.00727.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rosenberger RS, Loomis JB (2000a) Panel stratification in meta-analysisof economic studies: an investigation of its effects in the recreation valuation literature. J Agric Appl Econ 32(2): 459–470Google Scholar
  32. Rosenberger RS, Loomis JB (2000) Using meta-analysis for benefit transfer: in-sample convergent validity tests of an outdoor recreation database. Water Resour Res 36(4): 1097–1107 doi:10.1029/2000WR900006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rosenberger RS, Phipps TT (2007) Correspondence and convergence in benefit transfer accuracy: meta-analytic review of the literature. In: Navrud S, Ready R(eds) Environmental value transfer: issues and methods. Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  34. Rosenberger RS, Stanley TD (2006) Measurement, generalization and publication: sources of error in benefit transfers and their management. Ecol Econ 60(2): 372–378 doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.03.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shrestha RK, Loomis JB (2001) Testing a meta-analysis model for benefit transfer in international outdoor recreation. Ecol Econ 39(1): 67–83 doi:10.1016/S0921-8009(01)00193-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shrestha RK, Loomis JB (2003) Meta-analytic benefit transfer of outdoor recreation economic values: testing out-of-sample convergent validity. Environ Resour Econ 25(1): 79–100 doi:10.1023/A:1023658501572 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shrestha R, Rosenberger R, Loomis J (2007) Benefit transfer using meta-analysis in recreation economic valuation, in benefit transfer accuracy: meta-analytic review of the literature. In: Navrud S, Ready R(eds) Environmental value transfer: issues and methods. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 161–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Smith VK, Huang JC (1995) Can markets value air quality? A meta-analysis of hedonic property value models. J Polit Econ 103(1): 209–227 doi:10.1086/261981 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Smith VK, Kaoru Y (1990) Signals or noise? Explaining the variation in recreation benefit estimates. Am J Agric Econ 72(2): 419–433 doi:10.2307/1242344 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Smith VK, Osborne L (1996) Do contingent valuation estimates pass the scope test? A meta analysis. J Environ Econ Manage 31(3): 287–301 doi:10.1006/jeem.1996.0045 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Smith VK, Pattanayak SK (2002) Is meta-analysis a Noah’s ark for non-market valuation. Environ Resour Econ 22(1–2): 271–296 doi:10.1023/A:1015567316109 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Smith VK, van Houtven G, Pattanayak SK (2002) Benefit transfer via preference calibration: “prudential algebra” for Policy. Land Econ 78(1): 132–152 doi:10.2307/3146928 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. U.S. EPA. (2007) Advisory on EPA’s issues in valuing mortality risk reduction (EPA-SAB-08-001). U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board, Office of the Administrator, Washington, DC, OctoberGoogle Scholar
  44. Vandenberg TP, Poe GL, Powell JR (2001) Accessing the accuracy of benefits transfer: evidence from a mult-site contingent valuation study of groundwater quality. In: Bergstrom JC, Boyle KJ, Poe GL(eds) The economic value of water quality. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 101–120Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ENTRIX Inc.New CastleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Economics and George Perkins Marsh InstituteClark UniversityWorcesterUSA

Personalised recommendations