Edited by David Pearce, Corin Pearce and Charles Palmer
3. Valuing river water quality in China Brett Day and Susana Mourato 1 INTRODUCTION The rivers in the region surrounding Beijing provide an example of a classic externality problem caused by ill-deﬁned property rights. Rivers, as with many natural resources, perform a number of economic functions. For one, they act as a receptacle for industrial, agricultural and human waste products. The water pollution caused by these activities conﬂicts with a second stream of market and non-market beneﬁts that are derived from the water quality in rivers being maintained. In particular, the rivers of the Beijing region provide direct use beneﬁts through on-site recreation (for example, angling, swimming, boating, beach sports, sunbathing, sightseeing, walking and the amenity value of the riverine environment). Unpolluted rivers may also provide a variety of indirect use beneﬁts that might include increased local employment from tourism. The possibility exists that the water quality of rivers also inﬂuences another set of beneﬁts known as ‘non-use values’. These beneﬁts are derived by individuals who value a high-quality environment, irrespective of their use of it. We might consider the beneﬁts that individuals derive from protecting river quality for future generations (bequest values), from knowing that other people may enjoy cleaner rivers (altruistic values) or simply from the knowledge that rivers are being preserved for their own sake, providing a natural habitat for ﬁsh, plants and wildlife (existence values). In recent years, economic growth in and around Beijing has resulted in...
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