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Capturing public views on complex and unfamiliar goods: chemical water pollution in England and Wales

Atherton, Joel (2019) Capturing public views on complex and unfamiliar goods: chemical water pollution in England and Wales. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis (papers submission) focuses on the challenge of using public opinion to value environmental goods that are both complex to understand and unfamiliar to people. The three central papers are introduced by a literature review, which considers recent advancements in methods and knowledge associated with determining values for unfamiliar goods. The first paper then applies a stated preference choice experiment (using online surveys) and a latent class analysis to determine the value of reducing persistent chemicals from waterbodies in England and Wales. A scientific certainty attribute is included to capture the uncertainties associated with persistent chemical effects, marking a novel contribution to the literature and a development of the precautionary principle for application. The second paper uses a deliberative approach to investigate how people frame policy options for reducing chemical water pollution in England and Wales (required under the Water Framework Directive), using a representative sample of participants over two consecutive weekend workshops. The key finding here is that stated preference research aiming to be policy-relevant should improve its approach to cost fairness issues. The final paper uses a contingent valuation approach (using online surveys) to estimate the value of removing metal pollution from waterbodies in England and Wales. This paper applies a split sample to investigate the effect of a social norms information treatment on how convincing and realistic people found the stated preference scenario and payment tasks to be, which increased for the treatment group. The results indicate that the treatment has a weak direct impact on estimated mean willingness to pay (WTP), however a relative measure of WTP precision suggests that such estimates can be improved if people pay attention to the treatment. The findings from this thesis are of use to social scientists, civil servants and environmental economists interested in: improving approaches to valuing complex and unfamiliar goods; better reflecting natural decision-making in public opinion research; and applying findings from deliberative and survey-based research to create and manage more effective policies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Joel Atherton
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Atkinson, Giles
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3921

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