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Modelling unobserved heterogeneity in contingent valuation of health risks

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Human preferences for alternative levels of health risks can be heterogeneous. In this paper a flexible distribution approach to model health values elicited with the dichotomous choice contingent valuation method is considered. Rigid parametric structures cannot model sample heterogeneity while imposing strong assumptions on the error distribution. A mixture of normal distributions is considered which can approximate arbitrary well any empirical distributions as the number of mixtures increases. The model is applied to data on willingness to pay for reducing the individual risk of an episode of respiratory illness. The mixture distribution model is compared with the rigid probit model using a Bayes factor test. The results show that the mixture modelling approach improves performance while allowing for the consideration of alternative groups of individuals with different preferences for health risks.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Applied Economic Analysis Department, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35017 Spain

Publication date: 2006-10-20

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