Date of Award

Winter 2016

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Ju-Chin Huang

Second Advisor

John Halstead

Third Advisor

Porter Hoagland


This dissertation focuses on the methodological development, evaluation and applications of non-market valuation techniques in environmental economics. The first essay reviews 38 studies on the valuation of beach proximity using hedonic property value models since the 1980s. I find that choice of control variables and site characteristics are significant determinants of the value estimates. Therefore, the meta-analysis benefit transfer that incorporates site characteristics is much more preferred than the other benefit transfer methods, such as the direct value transfer and function transfer.

The second essay seeks to address the sampling bias in the analysis of on-site survey data. I propose two alternative empirical approaches that both utilize the sample distribution and treat the endogenous stratification and truncation issues separately. My Monte Carlo simulation shows that the proposed empirical approaches can better correct the bias when the population distribution deviates from the assumed distributions in the standard models. A case study of the recreation demand for coastal beaches on Plum Island, Massachusetts, is presented using the alternative correction methods.

In the third essay, I empirically test the existence of the status quo effect in choice experiments and its possible determinants using the data on the consumer preferences for locally grown fresh produce in Massachusetts. In addition to individual characteristics, I find that market experience in purchasing locally grown fresh produce significantly reduces the choice of status quo option. The results imply that when analyzing choice experiments data, the inclusion of an alternative specific constant for the status quo option is necessary. In addition, individual characteristics and previous market experience are important determinants of the status quo effect in choice experiments.