Sensitivity of willingness to pay estimates to the level of attributes in discrete choice experiments
Ryan M., Wordsworth S.
This paper considers issues raised in the application of discrete choice experiments (DCEs) to estimating willingness to pay (WTP). The main issue addressed is the sensitivity of WTP estimates to the level of attributes. A DCE, concerned with preferences for alternative cervical screening programmes, was carried out with women in the Tayside area of Scotland. A split sample design was employed in which respondents were divided into two groups. Each group received a discrete choice questionnaire that varied with respect to the levels of three of the six attributes. The price attribute was one of the attributes that varied across questionnaires. Whilst estimated coefficients were not significantly different across five of the six attributes included in the experiment, mean WTP estimates were significantly different for four of the five welfare estimates. However, from a policy point of view, such a difference may not be important. Consideration is also given to other general methodological and policy issues that are raised when using DCEs to estimate WTP. The findings suggest the need for further research into the design and application of DCEs as a method for estimating WTP.