Three Essays on Behavior, Incentives, Environmental Valuation, and Contributions to Conservation

  • Author / Creator
    Xie, Lusi
  • Understanding how human behavior influences and is influenced by environmental resources that are outside of markets is challenging but crucial for policy evaluation and regulatory decisions. This thesis presents three studies that examine non-market behavior associated with environmental resources and recreational activities. The empirical application of the thesis is to study the behavioral and welfare impacts of the presence of a potentially zoonotic wildlife disease on recreational hunters and to design incentive programs that engage recreational hunters in curbing the wildlife disease. The first paper focuses on individuals’ spatial and temporal recreation decisions and their responses to incentives that provide temporal flexibility. I extend a discrete-continuous recreation demand model that explicitly combines spatial (where to go) and temporal (when to go) decisions at intensive and extensive margins. The incentives of longer recreation seasons, with the intent to support wildlife disease management by providing individuals with the flexibility of choosing the time of activities, are found to encourage more recreation trips, induce spatial and temporal substitution behavior, and generate welfare benefits. The second paper studies the effectiveness of incentives and information framing on contributions to impure public goods in an experimental setting. Based on a theoretical framework within the concept of motivational crowding, I examine students’ and recreational hunters’ decisions on increasing recreation trips in response to incentives and pro-social information in a multiple threshold impure public goods game. Pro-social information is found to encourage more contributions from students and recreational hunters. Monetary rewards generate different behavioral outcomes in the two samples, depending on whether they are given in fixed amounts or as a lottery. Students and recreational hunters also behave differently after incentives are removed. The third paper tests the temporal reliability of estimates from discrete-continuous recreation demand models with contingent behavior data – a type of stated preference data. The contingent behavior data, collected from online surveys over three years, elicit individuals’ intended decisions on recreation trips with hypothetical incentive programs. I estimate three separate models, construct welfare estimates of closing recreation sites, and test consistency of coefficient and welfare estimates. I find most coefficient and welfare estimates are consistent or temporally reliable across years. Together, these studies provide economic insights into designing incentives and engaging humans in managing potentially zoonotic wildlife diseases and other similar health risk situations, as contributions to the ongoing research effort to improve knowledge of human behavior and inform policy decisions.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.