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Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Elgar original reference

Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa

Cultural heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. The Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage outlines the contribution of economics to the design and analysis of cultural heritage policies and to addressing issues related to the conservation, management and enhancement of heritage.

Chapter 23: Assessment of value in heritage regulation

David Throsby

Subjects: development studies, tourism, economics and finance, cultural economics, public sector economics, environment, tourism, geography, tourism


Policy instruments used for the regulation of built heritage fall into two types. First, the major instrument of heritage policy used in countries around the world is listing, whereby buildings or sites considered of sufficient significance from a heritage viewpoint are placed on a register, allowing public authorities to regulate their management, conservation, adaptive re-use and so on. Lists range in importance from those compiled at community level by local authorities at one extreme, to the World Heritage List representing items of universal value at the other, with many regional-and national-level registers in between. Whatever the level, decisions as to whether or not a particular item should be listed are taken on the basis of an assessment of the item’s cultural worth, usually determined through some sort of systematic appraisal, expert or otherwise. Second, once a particular property is included on a list, there is a wide range of instruments used by public authorities to control its preservation or adaptive re-use. These include: restrictions on alteration of the property; prohibition on demolition; specification of standards for colours, materials, craftsmanship, etc. applied in renovating or restoring the property; and limitations on how the property can be used. Again, decisions on these matters are generally couched in terms of some assessment of the heritage item’s cultural worth.

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