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The New Economics of Outdoor Recreation

Edited by Nick Hanley, W. Douglass Shaw and Robert E. Wright

This innovative book presents a series of up-to-date analyses of the economics of outdoor recreation. The distinguished group of authors covers real-world recreation management issues and applies economic understanding to these problems. An extensive introduction by the editors details the historical background of economists’ interests in this subject, and reveals how economics can provide practical insights into improving how we manage our natural recreation areas.
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Chapter 5: Are Climbers Fools? Modeling Risky Recreation

Paul M. Jakus, Mary Riddel and W. Douglass Shaw


Paul M. Jakus, Mary Riddel and W. Douglass Shaw 1. INTRODUCTION In this chapter we examine the recreational activity known as rock climbing, linking this activity to the economics of risk-taking. Nearly all economic studies of risk or uncertainty relate to financial risk and/or portfolio management. Recently, however, people engaged in the valuation of environmental amenities have recognized the need to allow their models to incorporate an individual’s uncertainty about the environment or some decision that must be made and, at times, complex behaviors under risky conditions. Still, the vast majority of recreation studies have assumed no uncertainty or risk while explaining recreationists’ behavior, even those that do examine recreational activities one might deem risky. For example, nearly all of the analyses of rock climbing apply the standard random utility or count data versions of the travel cost model of recreation demand, with none of them involving aspects of risk except in a very minor way (Ekstrand, 1994; Shaw and Jakus, 1996; Grijalva et al., 2002a, 2002b; Hanley et al., 2001; and Hanley et al., 2002). Nearly all of these rock climbing studies examine access to climbing areas in the United States or Scotland, focusing on where participants go climbing and how often. These studies have been motivated by proposed climbing management plans that may restrict climbing access on public land used by climbers. In recent years managers of public lands have grown concerned that rock climbing harms resources or have become aware of potential conflicts between rock climbers...

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