Heterogeneity in Values of Morbidity Risks from Drinking Water

50 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2011

See all articles by W. Kip Viscusi

W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt University - Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics

Joel C. Huber

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Jason Bell

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: May 24, 2011

Abstract

This paper reports the stated preference values for reducing the morbidity risks from drinking water estimated using a nationally representative U.S. sample of 3,585 households. Based on the average annual gastrointestinal (GI) illness risk in the U.S. from drinking water of about 5 illnesses per 100 population, eliminating the GI risk has a median annual value per household of $219. The considerable heterogeneity in the values arises largely from differences in attitudes towards risk and price sensitivity. Using interval regressions, we find that valuations are greater for those who perceive a high personal risk, consume a large quantity of tap water, or are environmentalists. The paper explores several methodological issues pertaining to the iterative choice format involving a choice between two policies characterized by their cost and GI risk. The analysis adjusts for starting point effects by basing valuations on the tradeoffs that are estimated to prevail at the “equitable tradeoff rate,” which is the starting cost-water quality tradeoff rate that produces a 50-50 split in the initial policy choice between policies with greater tradeoff rates and policies with lower tradeoff rates. The heterogeneity in valuations is also explored by examining quantile regression results and the determinants of the unbounded valuation amounts at the low and high extremes.

Keywords: drinking water, gastrointestinal illness, morbidity risk, stated preference survey, willingness to pay, starting point bias

JEL Classification: Q25, K32, I1, C83

Suggested Citation

Viscusi, W. Kip and Huber, Joel C. and Bell, Jason, Heterogeneity in Values of Morbidity Risks from Drinking Water (May 24, 2011). Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-37. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1928091 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1928091

W. Kip Viscusi (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7715 (Phone)
615-322-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Joel C. Huber

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7785 (Phone)

Jason Bell

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

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