Contingent valuation of cultural heritage: are the old axioms still valid in times of crisis?
Last page: 307
Keywords: Patrimonio, historia local, valoración contingente, valores de uso y de no uso, reconstrucción.
Historical and cultural heritage tends, increasingly, to occupy a place in the territorial space, as a relevant input and vector of local development. As more and more studies show, the connection between culture and development is complex, but the evidence indicates that heritage elements can activate processes of socioeconomic dynamization in various ways, including through cultural tourism. This is why public and private decisions on what to preserve are strategic and affect the transformation capacity of the territory, not only in large-scale interventions of an iconic nature, but also in smaller interventions linked to local heritage elements. The interest in local heritage emerges in recent decades and coincides with the emergence of academic disciplines such as microhistory and local history. It is also perceptible a growing involvement of civil society, through various institutions such as workshops, institutes or local study centers, in the processes of heritage enhancement. It is in this context where the need for methodologies that allow us to approach these values appears. From Economics, one of the methods used, due to its properties of collecting both the use and non-use values of the asset, is the Contingent Valuation Method. The aim of this thesis is to observe whether this methodology, which comes from the field of Environmental Economics, can also be useful in the valuation of heritage assets. Through the application of this methodology, three cultural architectural assets, of the Valencian local heritage, have been valued in three different periods; the first, in 2002, in some years of cultural expansion; the second, between 2009 – 10, at the beginning of the current economic crisis, when its depth was not yet glimpsed; finally, the third, was carried out between 2013 – 14, with an entrenched crisis and an awareness of this state (strong unemployment rates, reduction of prices and wages, etc). The conclusions point to the fact that the Contingent Valuation Methodology can be a valid tool to nurture social debates on heritage preservation, consequently expanding the technical quality and democratic depth of decisions in this field.