This research compared existence values held by Portland, Maine (United States) and Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) residents for the preservation of an additional five percent of the world’s tropical rain forests and identified economic and non-economic components of existence value and use values. Existence value was narrowly defined as cognitive in nature; it is the value placed on simply knowing tropical rain forests exists independent of current and future use values. Between November 1998 and February 1999, a 16 page mail-back questionnaire was sent to a random sample of residents in Portland and Port Moresby. A total of 330 and 461 questionnaires were returned from Portland, and Port Moresby, respectively for an overall response rate of 41 and 49 percent, respectively. The results indicated that non-economic components of mean willingness to pay (WTP) accounted for at least 50 percent of the total value for both Portland and Port Moresby residents. Non-economic components of existence value (intrinsic value, good cause, moral duty etc) and use value (non paternalistic altruism) were excluded to avoid presenting overestimated benefits. Portland and Port Moresby WTP estimates were found to be statistically different from each other. This finding invalidated the assumption that benefits could be directly transferable between countries, especially between developed and developing countries. This result was also supported by evidence of statistical differences in motives and socioeconomic variables between Portland and Port Moresby respondents. Portland residents generally had a higher value for existence (as a proportion of total mean WTP) than Port Moresby residents. Both the Portland and Port Moresby WTP estimates were lower than Kramer and Mercers’ (1997) US estimates. Results from the attitudinal models showed that Port Moresby respondents were more environment oriented than Portland respondents were. The latter were more development oriented. Port Moresby respondents expressed the sentiment that the rich nations of the world (including the US) should bear the responsibility of preserving tropical rain forests.
Existence Value: A Re-Appraisal and Cross-Cultural Comparison