Perceived social norms influence willingness to enroll in payments for ecosystem services

Authors: Madeline Giefer*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Li An, San Diego State University, Xiaodong Chen, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Land Use, Environment, China
Keywords: conservation, choice experiment, Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China, Grain to Green Program, Sloping Land Conversion Program
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Payments for ecosystem services (PES) has emerged as a leading conservation mechanism worldwide, and its success depends largely on rural landholders’ willingness to enroll in these programs. Researchers have suggested program duration and perceived social norms may influence enrollment, although there is little quantitative evidence for these. It is also unclear how prior experience with PES influences willingness to enroll. This study, conducted at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in southwestern China, uses a choice experiment and random effects model to quantify how payment level, duration of program, perceived social norms, and other demographic and economic factors affect farmers’ willingness to enroll land in PES. Results suggest higher expected enrollment among neighbors and higher payment level increase willingness to enroll, but contract duration does not. Other factors associated with higher enrollment include off-farm income and not having lived in one’s neighborhood since birth, while education, area of landholdings, gender, age, socioeconomic status, and education had no effect. These results suggest PES coordinators may improve enrollment by targeting long-established households with more land, more migrants, and higher educational attainment, regardless of whether or not a household has previously enrolled in PES. Moreover, results suggest coordinators may improve enrollment by emphasizing neighbors’ enrollment, thereby capitalizing on perceived social norms.

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