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Provided and perceived status quo in choice experiments: Implications for valuing the outputs of multifunctional rural areas

Marcos Domínguez-Torreiro, Mario Soliño
Ecological economics 2011 v.70 no.12 pp. 2523-2531
cultural heritage, development policy, experts, policy analysis, rural areas, rural development
This article presents a choice experiment analyzing multifunctional rural development policies targeting conservation and recovery of environmental, social and cultural assets. In choice experiments a base alternative is usually included in order to estimate the welfare change associated to policy proposals. This study is concerned with the much neglected issue of the impact on policy analysis of the definition of a ‘status quo’ alternative either as an objective assessment by experts, or as a self-reported perception by respondents. Convergent validity analysis and prospective policy scenarios show a significant impact of different status quo specifications on individuals' preferences and related welfare measures when complex and unfamiliar biophysical systems are involved in policy analysis and evaluation.