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Consumers or Citizens: How do Respondents Answer a Choice Experiment About Freshwater Management?

S.A. Miller, C.M. Saunders, P. R. Tait


The debate as to whether respondents in stated preference surveys apply citizenorconsumer preferences isunresolved. Underlying economic theory assumes that respondents in such surveys use consumer preferences; however, in some contexts respondents may consider wider citizen-type preferences. This study examines the impact of citizen and consumer roles on willingness to pay ina freshwater choice experiment in Canterbury, New Zealand. Employinga split-sample approach, respondents were presented witheither the citizen-type choice sets or the consumer-type choice sets.Choice set responses were then validated by a debriefing question to determinethe self-stated viewpoint, citizen or consumer,which respondents considered they applied when answering. Results indicate that most respondents, including those tothe consumer-type survey, stated that they answered the choice sets as citizens.Hence perhaps it was not surprising that no statistical evidence for differences in the willingness to pay between the two samples was found. While these findings are specific to the freshwater case study, they do add empirical evidence to a currently unclearcitizen-consumer debate.


citizen-consumer debate; choice experiment; de-briefing questions, freshwater; New Zealand

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