The Price of Virtue
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The Price of Virtue

The Economic Value of the Charitable Sector

Vivien Foster, Susana Mourato, David Pearce and Ece Özdemiroglu

The authors of this pioneering book attempt to address this problem by utilizing survey techniques, originally developed in environmental economics, to place an economic value on the benefits provided by the voluntary sector in the UK.
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Chapter 2: The Benefits of Charities to the General Public

Vivien Foster, Susana Mourato, David Pearce and Ece Özdemiroglu


2. The benefits of charities to the general public 2.1 INTRODUCTION A significant number of attempts have been made to estimate the size of the voluntary sector, as measured by employment, income and expenditure. However, these studies provide only incomplete measures of the value of the sector as they focus on the costs rather than the benefits, that is, the value added of the sector. The experiment reported in this chapter uses data from a study that, for the first time, applied stated preference techniques to the valuation of the output of the charitable sector in the UK, with special reference to the housing and homelessness charities. Broadly speaking, charities can be seen as providing use value to a relatively small group of beneficiaries and non-use, option and indirect use values to society at large. This chapter deals with the estimation of the latter type of values from the perspective of the general public. The purpose of investigating the value of charities to the general public in the UK is twofold. The first objective is to measure the benefits which the charitable sector provides to society at large, over and above the benefits received directly by the target groups. As mentioned in Chapter 1, these benefits could potentially be motivated by a number of considerations. People may benefit indirectly from the charities’ activities, for example by a reduction in the number of rough sleepers they encounter on city streets. Or they may...

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