How much are Singaporeans willing to pay for clean air? Singapore is blighted annually by haze drifting over from forest and peat fires in Indonesia. A particularly severe haze event occurred in 2015, with Singapore blanketed in foul air for nearly three months. The economic impacts of the haze include negative effects on transport, health and tourism. How much are these economic impacts worth? In this study just published online in Environmental Research Letters, we estimated these impacts indirectly using the contingent valuation method: we asked Singaporeans how much of their annual income they would be willing to sacrifice, e.g., in the form of a tax, to guarantee haze-free skies year round. The surveys used the double-bounded dichotomous choice method, and we scaled the results up from the sample of 390 individuals to Singapore as a whole. The paper was led by Honours student Lin Yuan.
Our final estimate for Singapore’s total annual willingness to pay was US$643.5 million (SGD 881.6 million). This number is on par with previous estimates of haze costs, derived from different methods, and is similar in magnitude to the estimated costs of proposed large-scale haze-mitigation programmes in Indonesia. Our results can thus inform future regional policy making with regards to haze mitigation.