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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Contingent Valuation: Controversies and Evidence


Contingent valuation (CV) has become one of the most widely used non-market valuation techniques. CV's prominence is due to its flexibility and ability to estimate total value, including passive use value. Its use and the inclusion of passive use value in benefit-cost analyses and environmental litigation are the subject of a contentious debate. This paper discusses key areas of the debate over CV and the validity of passive use value. We conclude that many of the alleged problems with CV can be resolved by careful study design and implementation. We further conclude that claims that empirical CV findings are theoretically inconsistent are not generally supported by the literature. The debate over CV, however, has clarified several key issues related to nonmarket valuation and can provide useful guidance both to CV practitioners and the users of CV results.

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