Estimating and Questioning Economic Values for Endangered Species: An Application and Discussion

By: Matthew J. Kotchen and Stephen D. Reiling


The economic costs of Endangered Species Act provisions receive substantial attention, but the economic benefits of species protection are often overlooked.  This paper presents an overview of the theory and methods necessary to estimate public values for threatened and endangered species.  Results are presented from a contingent valuation study that estimates economic values for the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) in Maine.  Using empirical evidence about what motivates economic values for threatened and endangered species, questions about what the numbers truly represent are pursued.  The intention is to provide a perspective that highlights potential advantages and limitations of estimating economic values for threatened and endangered species.

Matthew Kotchen is Ph.D. student in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.  Stephen Reiling is the Associate Director of the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station at the University of Maine, Orono, ME.  Please address correspondences to:  Matthew Kotchen, SNRE, University of Michigan, Dana Building 430 E. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1115. E-mail:

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