Handbook of Environmental and Resource Economics
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Handbook of Environmental and Resource Economics

Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

This major reference book comprises specially commissioned surveys in environmental and resource economics written by an international team of experts. Authoritative yet accessible, each entry provides a state-of-the-art summary of key areas that will be invaluable to researchers, practitioners and advanced students.
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Chapter 55: Meta-analysis, Economic Valuation and Environmental Economics

J.C.J.M. van den Bergh and K.J. Button


Jeroen C J M . van den Bergh and Kenneth J Button1 1. Introduction When the characteristics and results of distinct empirical studies are similar, especially in terms of the problems considered and the methodological approaches used, a logical question is whether these can be systematically processed to generate comprehensive and concise conclusions. If this is so, then rather than performing an additional in-depth study to gain new insight, it may be possible to elicit relevant information by a formal analysis of earlier studies. This procedure is generally referred to as meta-analysis (for example, Cooper and Hedges, 1994). It can broadly be defined as the formal synthesis of results and findings of scientific studies, possibly including summarizing, assessing, comparing, averaging, evaluating, and apprehending common elements in impact studies. It has been widely used in the natural sciences but its uptake has been slower in the social sciences (Stanley and Jarrell, 1989). Here we focus on the use of meta-analysis in environmental economics, in particular in the context of empirical valuation studies. A more extensive discussion of meta-analysis in environmental economics is offered by van den Bergh et al. (1997). Section 2 discusses important characteristics of meta-analysis. Particular objectives and techniques are presented in Section 3, and applications in environmental economics are reviewed in Section 4. Next, Section 5 discusses the main limits of meta-analysis. Section 6 concludes. 2. Characteristics of meta-analysis Meta-analysis, and its focus on rigorous synthesis, contrasts with more conventional literary review procedures (Cook and Leviton, 1980). It moves...

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