Protest responses and willingness to pay: Attitude toward paying for stormwater pollution abatement

Bradley S. Jorgensen, Geoffrey J. Syme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


In contingent valuation (CV) surveys, there is often a proportion of individuals who are not willing to pay to obtain (avoid) an increase (decrease) in some attribute of a particular environmental public good. Some of these respondents might protest an aspect of the CV survey (e.g. payment vehicle) or the behavioral intention (i.e. willingness to pay, WTP) constituting the measure of economic value. Respondents' attitudes toward the behavior of paying for a particular public good may contribute to the decision to pay independent of other explanatory variables, such as the price of the intervention, household income, and methodological characteristics of the CV survey. Moreover, attitude toward paying for the good may manifest in protest responses as a reaction to higher prices and methodological factors (e.g. the payment vehicle). To the extent that protest beliefs are dependent on such matters of survey design, they may be alleviated through changes in CV methodology. However, to the extent that protest beliefs are a reaction to the act of paying, methodological remedies may not be effective. CV surveys of stormwater pollution abatement were conducted in four Australian state capital cities. The surveys differed with respect to the type of pollution abatement intervention, the payment regime, the vector of prices used in the dichotomous choice question, and the institution responsible for implementing the stormwater pollution intervention. Protest beliefs were measured for all respondents irrespective of their responses to the WTP question. Results indicated that attitude toward paying underpinned protest beliefs regarding the role of government in stormwater management and individual rights to unpolluted waterways. This attitude was present in each city sample despite methodological differences between the CV surveys. Attitude toward paying explained variability in WTP, and was a larger predictor than was price. Household income was significantly associated with attitude toward paying, and this relationship was also invariant over city samples. Protest beliefs were not independent of either the WTP question or demographic factors, such as household income. Rather, these beliefs were related to WTP through attitudes toward the act of paying for stormwater pollution abatement. Censoring protest responses in the present study would bias CV samples toward those individuals who are favorably disposed toward paying for environmental public goods and those from higher income households. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-265
Number of pages15
JournalEcological Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitude toward paying
  • Contingent valuation
  • Protest responses
  • Stormwater pollution
  • Water quality
  • Willingness to pay

Cite this