Do existence values for cost benefit analysis exist?
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The use of the contingent valuation method to generate estimates of existence value for input to cost benefit analysis requires that individuals have utility functions defined over the relevant arguments. The validity of the assumption that the required utility functions generally exist has been questioned. It has been argued that some individuals will respond on the basis of lexicographic preference orderings. It has also been argued that some individuals do not consider that market, or individual willingness to pay, criteria are appropriate where existence value type issues are at stake. The paper considers survey evidence bearing upon these arguments. It is concluded that the evidence is consistent with the view that it is incorrect to proceed on the assumption that individuals generally satisfy the assumptions required for the existence of existence values for use in cost benefit analysis.
Key wordsexistence values contingent valuation utility functions lexicographic preferences
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