Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Economics

Committee Chair

Douglas Dalenberg


University of Montana


Over the last three decades, the regional travel cost model has emerged as an increasingly useful method for estimating the economic value of access to recreational sites. While considerable effort has been directed toward exploring the many nuances of the travel cost method, the sensitivity of model estimation to the specification of origin zones has rarely been investigated. This paper examines the sensitivity of a travel cost model to variation in the specification of origin zones from which anglers travel to visit a selection of nineteen Montana trout fishing streams.

The study relies upon a data set compiled by the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks and used in a study by Duffield et al (1987). The ZIPFIP computer program was used as a source of census data and to measure travel distance to each site from the zip code in which each trip originates.

A bivariate, double-log travel cost model was estimated using two different zonal specifications. Based upon the goodness of fit of the model, trip prediction, and benefit estimates, the model was found to be sensitive to the specification of origin zones. Zone scheme 1 produced a superior fit and predicted trips more accurately. Estimates of consumer surplus per trip were similar for the two zone schemes when the calculation used actual trips; when predicted trips were used, the estimates differed considerably. Comparisons with the results of the study by Duffield et al (1987) confirmed that the specification of origin zones and the method of measuring trip distance affect model estimates.



© Copyright 1997 Timothy W. Bryggman