Willingness to Pay for Submerged Maritime Cultural Resources

February, 2002


Many consider salvage value and tourism expenditures as the only economic values of a historic shipwreck. This paper looks at one alternative, the non-market value generated by management of shipwrecks as submerged maritime cultural resources. We consider the question: How much are people willing to pay to maintain shipwrecks in their pristine state? The contingent valuation method was implemented during summer 2001 as part of a telephone survey to households in eastern North Carolina. We find that households are willing to pay about $35 in a one-time increase in state taxes. The double-bounded willingness to pay questions are not incentive compatible and are subject to starting point bias, despite efforts to minimize these effects. Also, the data fails to pass the scope test. We speculate that we inadvertently succumbed to the well-known "birds" problem. We find that willingness to pay is internally validated by expected relationships with prices and income.

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