Canadian Forest Service Publications
A bug is a bug is a bug: Symbolic responses to contingent valuation questions about forest pest control programs? 1997. MacDonald, H.; McKenney, D.W.; Nealis, V.G. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics 45: 145-163.
Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 4858
Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)
Symbolic responses are one of many issues attending contingent valuation studies. The problem is that many objects that are the subject of contingent valuation surveys can act as symbols for larger issues. In this paper, we want to compare the attitudes of residents of five communities with two different forest pests, jack pine budworm and gypsy moth. Jack pine budworm affects commercially important forests in Canada, while gypsy moth generally affects recreational areas and has less commercial significance. All of the respondents were asked about both insects; however, not all of the communities had direct experience with both insects. The purpose is to examine whether respondents would differentiate their willingness to pay for control mechanisms between these different defoliators. The implication is that all bugs are alike and generally noxious, a notion that would not necessarily sit well with resource managers who have to deal with insect outbreaks. Respondents did not differentiate strongly between insect control programs that would impact their community and those that would not. While not conclusive, the results do suggest symbolic responses to this particular issue. This is further evidence that willingness-to-pay results from contingent valuation studies need to be cautiously interpreted as pseudo market values.