STATED PREFERENCES FOR PUBLIC SERVICES: A CLASSIFICATION AND SURVEY OF APPROACHES
Abstract The wider range of stated preference approaches to value public goods has not been systematically reviewed in recent years. The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of this literature and to evaluate the strengths and limitations of alternative approaches. Since the public referendum has served as a ‘blueprint’ for survey design, two key dimensions by which many surveys differ from the public referendum are used for a simple classification of approaches. This yields eleven approaches, including different variants of micro‐based demand surveys, referendum surveys, budget allocation surveys and contingent valuation surveys. Their evaluation in terms of the preference information they produce and the assumptions they require suggests there is no single preferred approach. Instead, each approach has its characteristic profile of strengths and limitations which follow from how it strikes the balance between the conflicting goals of measuring entire willingness‐to‐pay distributions and presenting manageable, credible and incentive compatible questions. Ultimately, judgments about the suitability of alternative approaches for specific objectives should rely on empirical evidence. Progress in the field could greatly benefit from a routine implementation of powerful experimental validity tests in applied work.
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