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2007-12-12 | project

Social norms and hypothetical bias in donations to national parks

The purpose of this paper, is to test the absolute as well the relative importance of anonymity, reciprocity and information of others contribution on voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica.

National Parks in Costa Rica lack sufficient funds for running the parks. There is therefore a need to raise additional funds. The basic policy idea is to investigate the possible role of voluntary contributions by visitors to finance/improve the financial situation of the parks. Our goal is to conduct a stated preference study on the willingness to contribute money to national parks. This information is important for the Costa Rican System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), since it is now in the process of restructuring its tariff system in pursuit of financial sustainability.

In addition, there is a recent literature showing that preferences for environmental goods depend on the social context that the preferences are expressed in. Furthermore, preferences, or at least expressions of preferences depends on what others do.

The project will conduct a natural field experiment on voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica, were international tourist were asked if they would contribute to the park. The anonymity is tested by letting the subjects contribute their money either in presence of the solicitor, or in a sealed envelope. The effect of reciprocity is investigated by handing a small gift to a sub-sample, prior to their contribution decision. In addition, using another dimension of the natural field experiment, we test the importance of anonymity with respect the solicitor and information of others’ based on hypothetical contributions and one bases on real contributions.