This research project addresses the important issue of assessing the economic (social) value of geological information. Typically the costs of providing geological information – i.e., those associated with data collection, compilation and interpretation, drafting, digitizing, data bases, and printing and distribution – can be assessed via existing market prices (e.g., wages for the skilled workers involved). However, the economic benefits of geological information are often not (adequately) priced in economic markets and they are therefore less tangible. This is because geological information is a public good in the sense that the information can be appropriated by several users at the same time (at low or no cost). This implies therefore that the assessment of the economic value (net benefits) of geological information is a complex undertaking, which requires the use of specific methodologies for the valuation of public goods and that are in turn based on the economics of information (e.g., Laffont, 1989)
In the present project we develop – and test – methods that can be used to assess the value of geological information to Swedish users of, for instance, geological maps and other related data. We will attempt to address both existing users but also latent users of geological information services in the country. The project develops a survey technique that can be used to infer an upper and a lower bound for the (expected) value of geological maps for individual users, values which in turn can be aggregated across the different users (following the public good character of geological data). Moreover, in a scenario study we also attempt to address the future (often latent) use and economic value of geological information in Sweden.