The Applied Choice Research Group (ACRG) at the University of Stirling Management School was established in 2019 to provide a focal point for the research interests of staff within the School’s Economics Division who work in various applied fields of choice modelling.
ACRG focuses on a number of distinct and interrelated themes within the broad area of applied choice. We have particular expertise and interest in the following applied thematic areas.
In this paper, we investigate the nexus between urban air pollution and residents’ preferences for greenspace. We first provide a theoretical discussion on three potential mechanisms that link these two environmental issues. To start with, where people choose to locate in a city, as reflected by their exposure to air pollution, may indicate their preferences for greenspace through a residential sorting effect: residents of heavily polluted neighbourhoods may have a lower appreciation of environmental amenities in general, including greenspace. Further, air pollution may have direct implications for the use value of greenspace. On the one hand, people tend to reduce outdoor activities in severe pollution as an avoidance behaviour, which may lead to reduced visits to and hence lower use value of greenspace. On the other hand, residents of severely polluted areas may derive additional benefits from greenspace, as trees are able to enhance air quality. To empirically test these mechanisms, we undertook choice experiment surveys in Beijing to elicit the public’s willingness to pay (WTP) for greenspace. We purposefully valued three types of greenspace: a neighbourhood park near respondents’ homes; a city park in central Beijing; and a national park in an outlying location. We use realtime pollution data to help explain the spatial and temporal variation in WTP, whilst controlling for other possible influencing factors. Neighbourhood parks are likely to provide direct air purification services for communities nearby, and our results indeed suggest that respondents exposed to higher levels of annual pollution are willing to pay more for an additional neighbourhood park. In contrast, WTP for the city park and national park is more likely to be linked with pollution levels via the residential sorting and reduced visits mechanisms. Yet our results find no evidence for such connections.
This study presents valuations of components of marine natural capital that have hitherto been overlooked by the valuation literature. Using a discrete choice experiment, it values a set of ecosystem services linked to seabed natural capital in the UK section of the North Sea. The study focuses on offshore seabed habitats, using Good Environmental Status as a measure of seabed health, thus linking directly to management targets under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. It considers how changing pressures on seabed habitats could affect marine industries and other ecosystems through trade-offs with (1) the contribution that exploitation of these habitats makes to the maritime cultural heritage; and (2) changes to the health of seabird populations. For seabed habitats and seabirds, the elicited values mainly represent non-use values for changes in the condition of natural capital assets. For maritime cultural heritage the valuation refers to the changed provision of this cultural ecosystem service. Results show that the public in England hold significant, strongly correlated, values for changes in the condition of offshore seabeds and seabird populations. Projected losses in maritime cultural heritage are found to lead to expected welfare decreases. Implications of these findings for marine planning and decision-making are discussed.
Globally, over 230 million people are infected with schistosomiasis, an infectious disease caused by parasitic helminths. Humans can get infected when they contact water which contains Schistosoma parasites. Although the disease can be treated with a drug, people get rapidly reinfected in certain high-transmission settings. Drug treatment alone may not be sufficient to eliminate this disease and additional interventions such as health promotion or improvements in water and sanitation need to be scaled up. To provide recommendations to these control programmes we carried out interdisciplinary research in Eastern Uganda to understand the influence of gender on schistosomiasis risk. We found that the water contact behaviour of boys and girls is quite similar, and we did not see differences in reinfection or genetic diversity of the parasite between boys and girls. Differences in water contact between genders is greater in adults, and further research is required for these individuals. In this setting, infection rates are high in school-aged children and there are no differences between genders. These results emphasise improved control efforts for all school-aged children in communities like these. Our interdisciplinary approach provided complementary findings. Such an integrated approach can therefore have more power to meaningfully inform policy on schistosomiasis control.
Although the contingent valuation literature emphasises the importance of controlling for respondents’ consequentiality perceptions, this literature has rarely accounted for the difference between payment and policy consequentiality. We examine the influence of the randomly assigned tax amount on consequentiality self-reports and their potential endogeneity using data from a single dichotomous choice survey about reducing marine plastic pollution in Norway. Results show that consequentiality perceptions are a function of the tax amount, with payment consequentiality decreasing and policy consequentiality increasing with higher tax amounts. We discuss the challenge of finding valid instruments to address potential endogeneity of consequentiality perceptions.
The existing empirical evidence shows that both contingent valuation and discrete choice experiment (DCE) methods are susceptible to various ordering effects. However, very few studies have analysed attribute-ordering effects in DCEs, and no study has investigated their potential influence on information-processing strategies, such as attribute non-attendance (ANA). This paper tests for attribute-ordering effects and examines whether the order of attributes describing the alternatives affects respondents’ propensity to attend to or ignore an attribute. A split-sample approach is used, where one sample received a DCE version in which the positions of the first and last non-monetary attributes are switched across the sequence of choice tasks compared with the other sample. The results show that attribute order does not affect welfare estimates in a significant way under the standard assumption of full attribute attendance, thus rejecting the notion of procedural bias. However, the welfare estimates for the attributes whose order was reversed and the share of respondents who ignored them differ significantly between the two attribute-ordering treatments once ANA behaviour is accounted for in the estimated choice models. These results highlight the important role of information-processing strategies in the design and evaluation of DCEs.