Willingness to Pay for What? A Note on Alternative Definitions of Health Care Program Benefits for Contingent Valuation Studies Academic Article uri icon

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  • The authors examine a number of ways in which willingness to pay (WTP) can be defined for measurement and use in a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of a collectively funded health care program. They show how ambiguous specification of the program consequences that respondents should consider in their WTP responses can lead to problems of double counting or zero counting in a subsequent CBA. An example is whether the value of lost time from work because of poor health should be included by a CBA analyst (e.g., valued at the wage rate) as a separate cost item or whether this has already been monetized and included in respondents’ WTP data. The authors highlight how differences in assumed or actual institutional structures are often ignored in measures of WTP and the consequences of this for the interpretation of WTP data.


  • Currie, Gillian R
  • Donaldson, Cam
  • O’Brien, Bernie J
  • Stoddart, Gregory Lloyd
  • Torrance, George W
  • Drummond, Michael F

publication date

  • December 2002