Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to examine how utilizing the contingent valuation method could help or hinder the decision making process for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Contingent valuation is a technique which uses surveys to measure people’s willingness to pay for a specific good or service. The ESA has been in effect since 1973 and its objective is to provide for the protection of endangered and threatened species and to aid in their recovery. The ESA has been criticized since there have not been many species who have recovered and been delisted. The argument has been made that the ESA should incorporate economics and a cost/benefit analysis when determining whether species should be listed as endangered. The contingent valuation method is designed to address the issue of valuing a non-use benefit or cost; a challenge made difficult when applying economic considerations to protecting the environment. I conducted a contingent valuation survey at Bryant University to determine whether the contingent valuation method would be helpful to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) when deciding whether to list a species. After analyzing the survey results, I determined there are many potential problems with the use of the contingent valuation method. I came to the conclusion the FWS would be unlikely to derive any benefits from the utilization of the contingent valuation method in the decision making process for the ESA.

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