Katarina Östberg’s thesis will deal with topics like distributional effects of environmental policies, accuracy of benefit transfer, and the value of improving the water quality status. One of the articles included in her thesis is “Non-market valuation of the coastal environment – Uniting political aims, ecological and economic knowledge”.

Katarina spikarIn this paper, Katarina and her co-authors examined the feasibility of using a holistic, policy-determined scenario for estimating Willingness-To-Pay for marine environmental improvements. Conducting valuation studies based on a policy-determined scenario is beneficial for decision-makers in terms of practical applicability but also for research in terms of e.g. data availability. Using a case study in two Swedish coastal areas, Himmerfjärden on the east coast, and the Eight Fiords area on the west coast, the authors examined whether respondents were able to understand and attach a monetary value to these types of scenarios. The tested scenarios were based on improving water quality according to the EU Water Framework Directive, and reduced noise and littering according to standard-type measures in a Swedish archipelago setting. The results were promising, paving the ground for future valuation studies using this approach.

The authors found that the monthly mean household willingness-to-pay (WTP) for the Swedish east and west coast ranges from SEK 61 to 108 for improved water quality, from SEK 54 to 84 for less algae blooms and from SEK 32 to 50 for less noise and littering. WTP is positively affected by membership of an NGO and frequency of visits to the area. Furthermore, the authors find mixed effects on the WTP if the respondent has a foreign background. For example, foreign background – defined as being either born outside Sweden or having both parents born outside Sweden - has a negative sign in the model for water quality and a positive sign for less noise and littering.

Interestingly, the authors also find that women on average have a lower WTP for the different attributes. Similarly, having children is another characteristic that has a negative influence on WTP, although this result was only significant for the improved water quality scenario.

The article is co-authored with Linus Hasselström, Enveco Consultancy Ltd, and Cecilia Håkansson, Royal Institute of Technology, and published in the Journal of Environmental Management 2012.

Katarina is defending her thesis in June.
Read the thesis: Non-market valuation of coastal ecosystem services

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