Research and policy considerations in the valuation and the allocation of environmental and health commodities
This dissertation consists of three essays that address some of the recent issues and policy considerations related to the valuation of environmental and health commodities. The first essay tests the effectiveness of two calibration techniques for hypothetical bias in contingent valuation; cheap talk and uncertainty adjustment. We find that uncertainty adjustment using a 10-point scale significantly reduces willingness to pay estimates and may be able to eliminate hypothetical bias.
The second essay examines public attitudes about the implementation of alternative management policies for public recreation lands in the US. This study is relevant to the current debate in Congress about the future of the Fee Demonstration Program which is designed to test the relevance and social acceptance of market based user fees to secure sufficient funding for public recreation lands. We found that the most socially acceptable forms for raising revenues were donation boxes, corporate sponsorships and adopt-a-site contracts. Both, user fees and increase in taxes faced greater opposition than support.
The third essay studies the effect of health insurance on the utilization of medical services, health production and cost of health care in Massachusetts. In this application of economic analysis, markets for health services are often distorted by the presence of health insurance which may lead to non-optimal allocation of medical resources. We test for differences in efficiency among the major types of health insurance plans, Medicaid, Medicare, non-managed and managed plans. Our focus is on patients hospitalized with asthma or diabetes, two conditions which have been occurring with increasing prevalence in the US. Our findings suggest that managed care health plans decrease the cost of health care for some medical conditions.
Each essay is presented as a separate chapter and represents an independent research study. Tables and figures follow after each essay, and all bibliography and appendices are presented at the end of the dissertation.