Valuing the Recreational Benefits of Sculpture in Public Parks.


  • Christopher F. Dumas
  • Robert T. Burrus, Jr.
  • Erin Diener
  • Jenny Payne
  • Jeff Rose


Recreation Benefi ts, Contingent Valuation, Willingness to Pay, Sculpture


A public good is a good that produces positive spillover benefi ts for multiple individuals. Often, the private market does not produce efficient levels of goods and services that generate positive spillovers because it is diffi cult for producers to charge individuals for any spillover benefits they enjoy. Because there is a tendency for the private market to under-produce goods and services that generate positive externalities, the government may subsidize these services or provide them directly. Government projects such as the provision and enhancement of public parks may add value to the economy by supplying public goods in effi cient quantities. Since there are not well-defined markets for public goods, policymakers often struggle to determine whether the non-market benefits of public projects outweigh costs. It is usually relatively straightforward to quantify project costs, but the quantifi cation of potential project benefits, especially non-market benefi ts, remains elusive. Contingent valuation (CV) survey methodology is useful for assessing the non-market benefits of public programs, such as the recreation value of viewing sculptures provided in public parks. Contingent valuation relies on the stated intentions of a cross-section of the aff ected population to pay for a hypothetical public program. Th e CV methodology provides estimates of household willingness to pay (WTP), a dollar-valued measure of non-market benefi ts. CV surveys used to derive the WTP for public goods include several well-defined elements: (i) a description of the hypothetical policy or program to be valued, (ii) questions designed to elicit a value or voting choice related to provision of the program from the respondent, and (iii) statistical techniques that enable measurement of estimation uncertainty (e.g., 95 % confi dence intervals) and that allow for the identifi cation and control of several potential biases that can arise in survey-based studies. As an illustration of the practical application of these methods, this study uses CV methodology to determine the economic benefi ts of adding outdoor sculptures to local public parks. We fi rst describe contingent valuation methodology. Next, using survey data, we fi nd a mean one-time willingness to pay of $6.43 per taxpaying household for sculpture placed in riverfront parks in Wilmington, North Carolina, with an aggregate value of $297,708 to city residents. With estimated project costs of $40,000-$60,000, the mean benefi t/cost ratio for this project is 5.0-7.4.





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