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How Do Attitudes and Perceptions Affect Environmental Preferences?  

Andy Sungnok Choi

Environmental preferences or willingness to pay (WTP) values tend to be heterogeneous and evolving over time. Attitudes and related theories worked as an alternative observation scope to the more conventional sociodemographic characteristics, explaining preference heterogeneity in environmental economics. Perception as a concept, on the other hand, is too illusive to be exclusively examined so is better treated as an attitude. Although not popular in mainstream environmental economics, the research interest in the attitude–WTP relationship has continued since the late 1990s and has increased and been relatively steady between 2006 and 2020. According to the lessons from the established behavioral models, attitudes are normally categorized as either general or specific. General attitudes are situation-invariant and slow to change, whereas specific attitudes are situational and quick to change. The early pioneering studies of the attitude–WTP relationship used mostly ad hoc measures for environmental attitudes roughly from 1990, followed by the studies of more systematic representation roughly from 2000, and by those of hybrid models roughly from 2010. There were segmentation-based and parameterization-based approaches to incorporating attitudinal characteristics into valuation models. In particular, parameterization has appeared in three generations: indirect inclusion of indicators, sequential estimation using factor analysis, and integrated hybrid models. As future prospects, first, general environmental attitudes might play an important role in the coming decade because of their relative stability (i.e., situation invariant), comparability, and wide influence, determining environmental preferences and behaviors. Second, a potential difference between the segmentation-based and parameterization-based approaches requires further investigation. Third, the role of hybrid models and the payment parameter that is arbitrarily constrained demand more studies for accurate estimation of mean WTP values. The evolving nature of human preferences could be understood only when the observation scope for latent attitudes is enlightened enough to guide studies of environmental economics, to lead environmental policies, and to accomplish sustainable development.


Economics of Gender in Resource Dependent Communities  

Biswajit Ray and Promita Mukherjee

Gender inequalities exist within commons-dependent communities in developing countries regarding the role of society’s overall attitudes to women as decision-makers. While, in forestry, women have some access to resources and decision-making, in other community resources like fisheries and irrigation water, women are absent and males entirely dominate. Different theories on gender and environment suggest that women’s inclusion is an important step toward reducing their economic marginalization and argue that in reality women’s economic advancement/empowerment may not get carried into home and community spaces as durable empowerment if society holds negative attitudes toward women’s needs, contribution and deservedness in families and beyond. Due to society’s negative attitudes toward women, women remain trapped in a vicious cycle of exclusion. Breaking this vicious cycle requires combining household assets and income to assess women’s true poverty type. A flat implementation of economic policies toward women’s pathway out of poverty may not yield the desired results and may even be counterproductive if society’s negative attitudes and the poverty characteristics of women or female-headed households are not taken into account. Since all women are not homogeneous and that a few communities hold pro-women attitudes, to promote women’s economic empowerment, the role of society’s attitudes toward women’s participation as decision-makers cannot be ignored as women’s relations to their social, economic, political, and natural environments are itself a culturally and historically specific process, which can be understood only through identifying and understanding gender-specific attitudes and actions toward those environments.