Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 59–77 | Cite as

Intangible outcomes from a policy change: using contingent valuation to quantify potential stigma from a cannabis offence

  • Marian ShanahanEmail author
  • Alison Ritter



New policies are increasingly required to be evaluated. One form of evaluation is a cost–benefit analysis where inputs and outcomes are all valued monetarily. However, intangible outcomes are often not included in these evaluations as they are perceived to be too difficult to value. The aim of this paper is to value one of the intangible benefits (decrease in stigma) from a potential change in drug policy using contingent valuation.


This paper reports on a contingent valuation study conducted among a community sample of 875 respondents on the internet. Respondents were asked what they would be willing to pay to avoid the stigma of a criminal record. Data were analysed with descriptive and regression analyses.


The survey found respondents were willing to pay a mean of $1,231 ($1,112–1,322; AUD 2009) to avoid the stigma from a criminal record for a loved one or for themselves. Household income was an important predictor of willingness-to-pay (WTP). The WTP was significantly and positively related to whether the respondent believed cannabis was usually or always addictive while those who had used cannabis recently (within past 12 months) were less likely to pay more, relative to those who had not used recently.


This paper demonstrates the feasibility of using economic methods to value intangible benefits from drug policy changes.


Cannabis Cannabis policy Contingent valuation Economic evaluation Stigma 



This work was supported by grant from the Australian Research Council (DP0880066). This work forms part of the Drug Policy Modelling Program, a program funded by the Colonial Foundation Trust and auspiced by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, which receives core funding from the Commonwealth Government of Australia. Professor Ritter is funded through an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Drug Policy Modelling Program, National Drug and Alcohol Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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