The influence of ethical attitudes on the demand for environmental recreation: Incorporating lexicographic preferences

Brett R. Gelso, Jeffrey M. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This article examines the relationships between different ethical attitudes toward environmental quality and the 'use' values obtained from the environment. In particular, we consider individuals who have duty-based ethical attitudes that lead to lexicographic preferences for environmental quality. We show that individuals with duty-based ethical attitudes have recreation demand functions that are 'kinked,' exhibiting perfectly inelastic behavior over some range of income. However, the kinks cannot be identified from typical cross-sectional data, and to the extent that observed recreation demand for these individuals differs from those with neoclassical preferences, such differences could be captured empirically through a proxy variable that measures ethical attitudes. A more fundamental issue is that changes in welfare for duty-based individuals cannot be determined from their estimated demand function: while an exogenous rise in environmental quality is likely to increase the demand for recreation by these individuals, additional recreation is not the reason for an improvement in well-being. An empirical model to identify the effect of ethical attitudes on recreation is illustrated using survey data on stated preferences for visits to urban parks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The authors wish to thank the staff of the Public Works Department in the City of Topeka for their assistance in distributing the mail survey. Helpful comments by an anonymous Ecological Economics reviewer are also gratefully acknowledged. This research was supported in part by funds provided by the USDA National Agroforestry Center, part of the Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.


  • Environmental ethics
  • Lexicographic preferences
  • Protest bids
  • Use values


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