Valuing Cultural Heritage

Valuing Cultural Heritage

Applying Environmental Valuation Techniques to Historic Buildings, Monuments and Artifacts

Edited by Ståle Navrud and Richard C. Ready

What value do we place on our cultural heritage, and to what extent should we preserve historic and culturally important sites and artefacts from the ravages of weather, pollution, development and use by the general public? This innovative book attempts to answer these important questions by exploring how non-market valuation techniques – used extensively in environmental economics – can be applied to cultural heritage. The book includes twelve comprehensive case studies that estimate public values for a diverse set of cultural goods, including English cathedrals, Bulgarian monasteries, rock paintings in Canada, statues in the US, and a medieval city in Africa.

Chapter 2: Methods for Valuing Cultural Heritage

Richard C. Ready and Ståle Navrud

Subjects: environment, environmental sociology, politics and public policy, public policy


Richard C. Ready and Ståle Navrud In this chapter, we review various non-market valuation techniques that can be used to estimate a monetary value for cultural heritage goods. The literature on these techniques is vast, and growing quickly.1 We cannot hope to provide a complete review of the latest methodological advancements. Instead, we have two objectives in this chapter. First, we hope to introduce non-economists to these techniques, providing sufficient background for them to understand the case studies presented later in the book. Second, we hope to point out the unique challenges and opportunities involved in applying these techniques to the valuation of cultural heritage goods. WHAT IS VALUE? Before we can begin to measure the value of a good, any good, we must first decide what we mean by the concept “value”. Here, we take a very neoclassical economic perspective. Within that perspective, the “value” of a good is defined as either (1) the amount of money the potential consumer would be willing to pay to get the good (willingness to pay, WTP), or (2) the amount of money the owner of the good would have to be paid in order to induce him or her to part with it (willingness to accept, WTA).2 In the case of goods that are traded in markets, consumers can compare their own value for the good (their WTP) with the market price, and decide whether or not to make a purchase. If the consumer does purchase the good, then we...

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