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The spatial range of public goods revealed through referendum voting


Deacon, Robert T; Schläpfer, Felix (2010). The spatial range of public goods revealed through referendum voting. Environmental and Resource Economics, 47(3):305-328.

Abstract

Billions of dollars are now spent annually in the United States and Europe for spatially delineated environmental services such as agricultural landscape management and river restoration programs, yet little is known about the spatial distribution of the benefits from these policies. This paper develops a framework for recovering information on this question from the spatial pattern of votes cast for referenda on the provision of spatially delineated public goods. We specify a model linking voter support for environmental improvement to the distance at which such improvements are expected to occur. The empirical application is to a river restoration referendum in the Swiss canton of Bern. Our results indicate that the benefits from river restoration have a strong local component, sufficiently strong that voter approval would not occur if only canton-wide benefits were at stake. Surprisingly, support for river restoration is no greater, and in some specifications is actually lower, in locations where rivers are a prominent feature in the environment.

Abstract

Billions of dollars are now spent annually in the United States and Europe for spatially delineated environmental services such as agricultural landscape management and river restoration programs, yet little is known about the spatial distribution of the benefits from these policies. This paper develops a framework for recovering information on this question from the spatial pattern of votes cast for referenda on the provision of spatially delineated public goods. We specify a model linking voter support for environmental improvement to the distance at which such improvements are expected to occur. The empirical application is to a river restoration referendum in the Swiss canton of Bern. Our results indicate that the benefits from river restoration have a strong local component, sufficiently strong that voter approval would not occur if only canton-wide benefits were at stake. Surprisingly, support for river restoration is no greater, and in some specifications is actually lower, in locations where rivers are a prominent feature in the environment.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:28 Feb 2011 14:52
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 05:28
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0924-6460
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10640-010-9380-7

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