Decoupling the value of leisure time from labor market returns in travel cost models

Patrick Lloyd-Smith, Joshua K. Abbott, Wiktor Adamowicz, Daniel Willard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Understanding the extent to which people substitute activities across time is important for evaluating behavior and welfare impacts in many contexts, including assessing the damages caused by oil spills and climate change impacts. We implement a flexible, individualized approach to measuring how people value their leisure time. We incorporate these heterogeneous values into a structural demand model that explicitly focuses on intertemporal substitution and incorporates time constraints on behavior. The model is estimated using data on recreation demand for for-hire offshore fishing trips in the US Gulf of Mexico. We find that respondents value their leisure time heterogeneously and substantially differently from their implied wage rate. We also find that accounting for this heterogeneity has significant impacts on estimated welfare measures for policies with large intertemporal substitution effects. These findings raise concerns with the common practice of solely relying on labor market information to value people’s leisure time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-242
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Demand system
  • Intertemporal substitution
  • Value of time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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