Selected Papers

We use survey-based choice experiments to assess individual demand for a state-level carbon cap-and-trade program with different attributes. We estimate implied social marginal benefits of carbon emissions reductions (SBC)—a willingness-to-pay measure that complements existing avoided-cost measures captured by the social cost of carbon (SCC). Household willingness to bear the cost of any given program depends on the emissions reduction the program would provide, as well as the likely changes in the number of jobs in carbon-intensive industries and in ‘green’ industries in the respondent’s county. We estimate marginal rates of substitution between ‘carbon’ jobs and ‘green’ jobs. … people do care how much of any auction revenue is used to help workers and communities adapt to the program. People also prefer programs that include additional regulations to limit co-pollutant emissions by firms that buy permits. …
Pending submission, 2023.

In this detailed review of about two dozen published choice experiments concerning ecosystems and wild birds, I highlight differences across these studies that affect their suitability for benefits-function transfer. Survey-based choice experiments are often used to reveal the types of trade-offs that people are willing to make among the attributes that describe some different alternatives they may face. Studies can be designed merely to illuminate the tradeoffs willingly made by the sampled respondents in their particular context. However, to maximize the usefulness of an expensive survey-based choice experiment, it is important to design the study in a way that maximizes its value for future exercises in ‘benefits-function transfer.’ … (This paper is currently being revised and updated. The new version will be co-authored with Sonja Kolstoe.)
In draft form, 2023.

Several universities have implemented, and numerous others are considering, internal carbon fee or pricing programs intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, finance carbon reduction programs, signal sustainability and/or prepare for future mandatory carbon reductions. To learn about preferences over potential program designs, we employ survey-based choice experiments concerning potential internal carbon-pricing programs at a flagship public university. More than 1,000 stakeholders each consider several hypothetical programs which vary in their costs, emission reductions, the initial incidence of their costs, and uses of the resulting revenue. With corrections for systematic sample selection, we estimate a random-utility model with systematic preference heterogeneity which permits us to simulate, for different constituencies, the distribution of willingness to pay for different types of programs. Median individual willlingness-to-pay amounts predict the highest cost for any given program that would be approved in a campus referendum. Mean individual willingness-to-pay amounts can be used for benefit-cost assessments.
Under review, 2023.

Online survey panels with quota-based sampling are often used for choice experiments designed for non-market valuation of public goods. Quotas can ensure a sample of respondents that is representative in terms of its marginal distributions for a limited number of observable sociodemographic characteristics, such as age, race, gender, income brackets or geography. But economists are well aware of the additional potential for systematic selection on the basis of unobservable traits or attitudes. Systematic selection can yield an estimating sample of respondents who have different preferences than the general population. A seminal paper by Heckman (1979) demonstrates how an explicit response/non-response model can be combined with a least-squares-based outcome model based on the respondent sample, under a maintained hypothesis that the errors in the selection equation and the outcome equation are bivariate normal and potentially correlated. However, a Heckman-type approach is inappropriate for the conditional logit choice models typically used to analyze the data from choice experiments. This is because these outcome models are based on fundamentally uncorrelated Type I Extreme Value distributions which thwart reliance on the assumption of potentially correlated bivariate normal errors. We propose and demonstrate a novel method of sample selection correction for multi-alternative conditional logit models that adapts mixed logit estimation methods.
In progress, 2022.

In the U.S., the generosity of supplementary federal unemployment insurance (UI) was a controversial issue throughout the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic. The debate focused mostly on worries about economic disincentives for workers. However, federal UI may also have undermined support for local-level pandemic mitigation strategies. We quantify the effect of federal UI on the trade-offs that individuals are willing to make with respect to county-level pandemic policies. We use choice experiments from an online survey, and both model, and correct for, systematic response/non-response propensities. When respondents are asked to assume that federal UI will be zero, they tend to be averse to losses in average household income but favorably disposed toward increased unemployment. With positive federal UI payments, however, respondents become more willing to accept losses in average household income but view increased unemployment less favorably. The reversal with respect to losses in average household income is driven by younger, white, non-college and lower-income respondents. The reversal with respect to unemployment is driven by middle-aged and conservative respondents. Our findings demonstrate policy-relevant heterogeneity in support for county-level health policies as a function of national-level social safety net policy. (This paper featured as one chapter in Joe Mitchell-Nelson’s 2022 Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Oregon.)
Pending submission, 2022.

Citizen/community science samples are self-selected, limiting their value for predicting population behavior. We field a general-population survey to elicit different levels of knowledge about (or engagement with) the eBird project and transfer a fitted sample-selection function, combining that function with eBird member attributes to correct a model of spatial consideration sets.
In Land Economics, 2022.

We take advantage of a 2003 general-population choice-experiment survey of U.S. residents designed to determine people’s willingness to bear the costs of public policies to reduce illnesses and avoid premature deaths in their communities. We re-estimate earlier models, omitting all respondent-specific individual characteristics and adding new county-level data on a variety of contextual variables circa 2003. Then we transfer our re-estimated model to the context of the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic, substituting 2020-era levels of the contextual variables, including county-level household incomes and unemployment rates. …
Pending submission, 2022.

Studies of participant attention allocation in stated preference choice experiment (CE) studies have found mixed evidence that participants employ attribute non-attendance (ANA) as a decision heuristic or as a part of a fully rational search strategy. Many studies find that correcting for ANA has considerable effects on willingness-to-pay (WTP) estimates, but the right method of correction depends on the reasons for ANA. We conduct an experiment that, coupled with results from a previous survey, give us a uniquely suitable dataset to settle the heuristic-vs.-rationality debate. Our experiment presents subjects with a standard choice experiment over alternative health risk reduction strategies, with the addition of masks covering information about the alternatives. The masks can be removed by “paying” randomly drawn time costs, giving us an exogenous source of variation in ANA. Results from a “vanilla” version of this survey without masks allow us to identify the causal effects of time costs on WTP estimates. Additionally, we develop a dynamic search model for our CE context and compare its predictions with those of the directed cognition model outlined in Gabaix et al. (2006).
In progress, 2020.

In earlier work, we have focused on species richness as a single measure of biodiversity. In this study, we seek to enhance our descriptions of what happens to backyard bird populations with and without an avian biodiversity protection program. The survey instrument for our stated-preference choice experikment includes enough abundance information about individual species of regionally common backyard birds to permit the calculation of a variety of alternative biodiversity measures. These include not only the species richness, but also the Shannon index, the Simpson index, the Simpson Reciprocal index, and others. The choice tasks in our choice experiment specifically describe the consequences of the policy for each of the top 25 backyard bird species in the respondent’s Bird Conservation Region, in batches of five, as well as the average effects on all other common backyard (passerine) species in the area.
In progress, 2019.

Other Recent Publications

More Publications

. Climate, land cover, and bird populations: Differential impacts on the future welfare of birders across the Pacific Northwest. In Agriculture and Resource Economics Review, 2018.

PDF Project

. Contemporary guidance for stated preference studies. In Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 2017.

Preprint PDF Project UO Access

. Willingness to pay for public health policies to treat illnesses. In Journal of Health Economics, 2015.

Preprint PDF Project Appendix UO Access

. Valuing morbidity in environmental benefit-cost analysis. In Annual Review of Resource Economics, 2014.

Preprint PDF Project

. Demand for health risk reductions. In Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2013.

Preprint PDF Project Appendix UO Access

. Distal order effects in stated preference surveys. In Ecological Economics, 2011.

Preprint PDF Project Appendix UO Access

. Willingness to pay for other species' well-being. In Ecological Economics, 2011.

Preprint PDF Appendix UO Access

. Demand for health risk reductions: A cross-national comparison between the U.S. and Canada. In Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 2010.

Preprint PDF Project Appendix UO Access

. Distributional preferences and the incidence of costs and benefits in climate change policy. In Environmental & Resource Economics, 2010.

Preprint PDF

. Euthanizing the Value of a Statistical Life. In Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 2010.

Preprint PDF Project Appendix UO Access

Recent & Upcoming Talks


Carbon-pricing programs

Research to assess support for carbon pricing programs with different attributes

Choice methodology

Research concerning methodological issues in choice modeling.

Pandemic-related Research

COVID-related research to assess willingness to pay for measures to protect public health.

Value of Health Risk Reductions

Measuring people’s willingness to pay for environmental health risk reductions

Wild Birds Projects

Research to assess the non-market value of opportunities to see wild birds.


I switched to Professor Emeritus status as of July 1, 2021. Thus I am not currently scheduled for any classroom teaching.


  • Department of Economics, 435 PLC, 1285 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1285
  • Email for appointment