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Valuing the Environmental Costs of Local Development: Evidence From Households in Western Nepal

Pakhtigian, Emily L., Jeuland, Marc
Ecological economics 2019 v.158 pp. 158-167
conservation programs, contingent valuation, developing countries, ecosystem services, education, environmental quality, households, land management, males, nongovernmental organizations, surveys, villages, watersheds, willingness to pay, Nepal
Environmental quality is rarely prioritized along the development pathways of developing countries, even though little is known about how individuals in these settings value intact environments. In 2017, we conducted a survey with a representative sample of 3660 households living throughout the Karnali and Mahakali River Basins in Western Nepal. As part of the survey, respondents were asked about how they use environmental services and participated in a double-bounded, dichotomous choice contingent valuation exercise designed to elicit their ability and willingness to pay (WTP) for a land conservation program that would prevent future development in and around their villages. We estimate the average monthly WTP for land conservation to be 202 NRs (US$1.96) and a lower bound of monthly household WTP to be 165 NRs (US$1.60). We find that households with higher levels of education exhibit higher willingness to pay; as do male respondents. We also find a significant negative relationship between household WTP and both migration and local NGO familiarity.