Graduate Project


Addressing Free Ridership and the Provision of Hidden Public Goods : Using an Experimental Randomized Control Trial to Test the Nation's Willingness to Pay for the Columbia River Levee System in the Portland Metro Area During an Era of Localism Public Deposited

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  • Levee management has historically been considered a local governance issue. Many users of the Portland International (PDX) airport may have no knowledge that the airport is in a floodplain and is protected by a hundred year old levee. This study asked survey respondents across the U.S. how much they would be willing to pay (WTP) for the maintenance and improvements of the Columbia River levee system. Using data collected from a national survey of a random and representative population sample of Amazon Mechanical Turk workers and a targeted Twitter survey (N = 460), the effects of the randomized control treatment (RCT) were empirically tested with four different funding scenarios. Self-categorization theory was tested to see if nationality and “American” identification increased respondents WTP and reduced free ridership. The survey data was analyzed using OLS, tobit, and two-part tobit estimators in attempt to answer these questions. Results indicated that the RCT had significant positive effects for the OLS and tobit models. Also, altruistic behavior and concern about levee maintenance were significant variables across all three estimators. Given the high theoretical WTP amounts given for the four funding scenarios by respondents across the U.S., results are suggestive that levee issues expand beyond localism and are in fact a national concern.
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