The influence of ethical attitudes on the demand for environmental recreation: incorporating lexicographic preferences



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This article examines the relationships between different ethical attitudes toward environmental quality and the ‘use’ values obtained from the environment. In particular, we consider individuals who have duty-based ethical attitudes that lead to lexicographic preferences for environmental quality. We show that individuals with duty-based ethical attitudes have recreation demand functions that are ‘kinked,’ exhibiting perfectly inelastic behavior over some range of income. However, the kinks cannot be identified from typical cross-sectional data, and to the extent that observed recreation demand for these individuals differs from those with neoclassical preferences, such differences could be captured empirically through a proxy variable that measures ethical attitudes. A more fundamental issue is that changes in welfare for duty-based individuals cannot be determined from their estimated demand function: while an exogenous rise in environmental quality is likely to increase their demand for recreation by these individuals, additional recreation is not the reason for an improvement in well-being. An empirical model to identify the effect of ethical attitudes on recreation is illustrated using survey data on stated preferences for visits to urban parks.



Environmental ethics, Protest bids, Use values, Lexicographic preferences