Labor as a welfare measure in contingent valuation: the value of a forest restoration project
Monetary contributions might not be appropriate welfare measures in contingent valuation (CV) when household incomes are very low. In such cases, willingness to pay (WTP) is restricted by a household's ability to reduce its consumption of other goods to pay for the environmental good under valuation. Beneficiaries, however, may be willing to contribute their time to work on a project instead of paying money. In this context, we assess the benefits of ecosystem services restoration in a rural area of high conservation value in central Chile, using a CV study that includes two WTP questions, one for cash and another for labor payments. The results indicate that labor payments in the form of a number of working hours per week were highly accepted among people. In fact, in our sample, more people were willing to pay with labor time than with traditional cash payments. When we analyze the economic efficiency of the restoration project considering only cash payments, the net present value (NPV) is negative (-US$ 255,834), but when we consider the value of time payments, the NPV is US$629,980. The results indicate that this approach ought to be seriously considered in contingent valuation in similar social and economic contexts.