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Determining the role of equity in recreation free acceptance and fair price on federally managed public lands

by Nyaupane, Gyan Prasad.

Abstract (Summary)
Equity has been a major public concern related to recreation fees on federally managed public lands. Despite its importance, equity has been entirely omitted in the empirical studies on recreation fees. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to examine the role of equity in fee acceptance and perceptions of fair price. In order to examine the role of equity, the study was divided into three major objectives: 1) a test of a threedimensional measure of equity, 2) a test of the mediating role of equity in fee acceptance, and 3) a test of the role of equity in perceived fair price compared to willingness to pay. A telephone survey was conducted with residents of three western states, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado (Denver Metro), between December, 2003 and February, 2004. The telephone sampling was conducted using a Random-Digit Dial (RDD) process, yielding 867 completed interviews. The instrument included multiple items measuring the dependent variable, fee acceptance, and independent variables of equity, information, social trust in agency, experience, and history of paying fees. Within the equity construct, items were included for three different subdimensions, including equity belief, compensatory equity, and democratic equity. The items were measured using a 5-point scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree, or strongly support to strongly oppose. The results of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) supported the threesubdimensional equity model in a recreation fee context. The preferences for the three subdimensions of equity showed very weak relationships with sociodemographic variables. Although the public prefers to provide discounted fees to elderly, disabled, and low-income people, rather than minorities and large families, results of further analysis iii highlight that overall, the disadvantaged groups do not seek discounts for themselves. For the test of the mediation effect of equity on fee acceptance, the results of structural equation models showed that equity belief partially mediated the effect of information about fees and trust in agency. In addition, the study indicated that perceived fair price is generally greater than the price people are willing to pay. Although the results were not consistent among different types of passes, the results suggested that fair price embraces more aspects of the equity concept than willingness to pay. The findings of this study broaden the understanding of recreation fees with various theoretical and management implications. This study empirically supports that equity is an important factor for explaining fee acceptance, as it mediates the effects of information and trust on fee acceptance. The study suggests that the best way to address equity is providing good information about fees and gaining trust from the public, which also helps managers to obtain public support for the fee program. iv
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School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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