External Validity of Contingent Valuation: Comparing Hypothetical and Actual Payments

Mandy Ryan* (Corresponding Author), Emmanouil Mentzakis, Suthi Jareinpituk, John Cairns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Whilst contingent valuation is increasingly used in economics to value benefits, questions remain concerning its external validity i.e. do hypothetical responses match actual responses? We present results from the first within sample field test. Whilst Hypothetical No are always an Actual No, Hypothetical Yes exceed Actual Yes responses. A constant rate of response reversals across bids/prices could suggest theoretically consistent option value responses. Certainty calibrations (verbal and numerical response scales) minimize hypothetical-actual discrepancies offering a useful solution. Helping respondents resolve uncertainty may reduce the discrepancy between hypothetical and actual payments, and thus lead to more accurate policy recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1473
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Economics
Issue number11
Early online date9 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

We thank respondents for taking part in the study and 2 anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Financial support from the University of Aberdeen and the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates is acknowledged.


  • contingent valuation
  • external validity
  • certainty


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