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The Economics of Uniqueness

The Economics of Uniqueness

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In a world where half of the population lives in cities and more than 90 percent of urban growth is occurring in the developing world, cities struggle to modernize without completely losing their unique character, which is embodied by their historic cores and cultural heritage assets. As countries develop, cultural heritage can provide a crucial element of continuity and stability: the past can become a foundation for the future. This book collects innovative research papers authored by leading scholars and practitioners in heritage economics, and presents the most current knowledge on how heritage assets can serve as drivers of local economic development. What this book tries to suggest is a workable approach to explicitly take into account the cultural dimensions of urban regeneration in agglomerations that have a history and possess a unique character, going beyond an approach based solely on major cultural heritage assets or landmarks. The knowledge disseminated through this book will help stakeholders involved in preparation, implementation, and supervision of development investments to better assess the values of cultural heritage assets and incorporate them in urban development policies.

In a world where half of the population lives in cities and more than 90 percent of urban growth is occurring in the developing world, cities struggle to modernize without completely losing their unique character, which is embodied by their historic cores and cultural heritage assets. As countries develop, cultural heritage can provide a crucial element of continuity and stability: the past can become a foundation for the future. This book collects innovative research papers authored by leading scholars and practitioners in heritage economics, and presents the most current knowledge on how heritage assets can serve as drivers of local economic development. What this book tries to suggest is a workable approach to explicitly take into account the cultural dimensions of urban regeneration in agglomerations that have a history and possess a unique character, going beyond an approach based solely on major cultural heritage assets or landmarks. The knowledge disseminated through this book will help stakeholders involved in preparation, implementation, and supervision of development investments to better assess the values of cultural heritage assets and incorporate them in urban development policies.

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Publish date: Oct 1, 2012
Added to Scribd: Sep 27, 2012
Copyright:AttributionISBN:9780821396506

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9780821396506

Heritage economics, based on database and information systems, can contribute
to achieving two objectives. Te frst is to monitor the stock of cultural heri-
tage assets in the historic city core, assessing its economic values and analyzing
the nature, the local distribution, and the evolution of such values over time.
Heritage indicators and maps are key elements in this analysis. Tey can dis-
play excess or lack of values, unbalanced distribution of values across the city,
or values not in phase with sustainable development. Te second objective is to
feed into the feld of planning and the decision-making process, and in particular
investment appraisal techniques applied to conservation. Economic data provide
useful information to assess the magnitude of impacts expected from projects.
Today, measuring economic values has become a standard process in eco-
nomics either for assessing the benefts of investing in cultural capital, or for
evaluating and selecting conservation and management projects. Use and non-
use values express the tangible and non-tangible aspects of the built heritage. In
economic terms, use and non-use values are distinguished by the marketable or
non-marketable aspects of the heritage. Te peculiar characteristic of heritage,

250 ■ THE ECONOMICS OF UNIQUENESS

as a physical asset (e.g., a building, a monument) with a value that clearly goes
beyond the asset itself, requires such a meaningful distinction. Te measurement
of use and non-use values aims to develop simultaneously quantitative and quali-
tative approaches to heritage conservation.
Use values are identifable, ofen measurable with great accuracy, and widely
represented in historic city cores: there are use values related to the real estate
market, existing within but independently from the heritage (e.g., housing,
shops, of ces, or public services); and there are use values related to tourism,
either directly (e.g., visits to the site, museum, or monument) or indirectly (e.g.,
lodging, food, shops, and services on site and of site).
Economists are able to measure induced use values (category of macroeco-
nomic values) as a result of the macroeconomic multiplier, which creates a range
of benefts in the vicinity of the heritage, taken as a whole. Te relevance of these
values depends mainly on methodological factors, and the values are measured
for larger areas only.

Non-use values are a prerequisite to use values. Because they are not mar-
ketable, non-use values are not directly measurable in monetary terms. Non-use
values can be identifed in relation to individual monuments, objects, architec-
tural ensembles, or public spaces, or in relation to a historic district as a whole.
In the last decade, economists have developed techniques to assess the economic
value of non-market exchanges. Tese non-market valuation techniques are used
to build indicators, and can be classifed into two categories:

• Revealed preference methods draw and analyze data from the existing market
or past behavior for heritage-related goods and services.
• Stated preference methods rely on the creation of hypothetical markets in
which survey respondents are asked to make hypothetical choices.

Heritage performance as a contributor to economic values can be measured
by indicators, which are today consistently used as an integrated approach for
measuring and monitoring cities. Tey are considered a perfect tool to test city
performances. Indicators are used to communicate information and to make pre-
dictions on future performance. Tey can simplify the interpretation of complex
systems and help decision makers. Te use of indicators does not substitute for
the use of databases. However, it is a very efective and pragmatic approach when
direct documentation would be too costly and time intensive.
Heritage indicators also express how economic values may be consistent with
sustainable development goals. Tis aspect is now commonly addressed in the
wake of the publication of “Our Common Future,” known as the Brundtland
Report.5

As noted in the report, sustainable development is based upon a par-
adigm that brings together three diferent perspectives: economic, social, and
environmental.

MAPPING HERITAGE ECONOMICS FOR SPATIAL ANALYSIS ■ 251

Tis paradigm advances the notion that heritage conservation and economic
growth can be compatible, when there is consideration that the world is their
common stage (conservation is a form of cultural globalization), and that the long
term is their common timeline (to the extent that actions move in an environmen-
tally sustainable way). Hence, heritage conservation constitutes an obvious choice
for sustainable development for historic city cores.6

Generally speaking, the best
indicators are those that suit the purpose of the analysis. Table 9.1 provides an
indicative set of indicators for diferent types of values.7
Te choice of selected heritage indicator in each category of the stream of val-
ues is based on available data, expert opinion surveys, or subjective assessment.
Te metrics of the judgment can be based on a scoring process (for example, on a
scale from 1 to 5, with 1 = indication of lowest value, and 5 = indication of high-
est value), or an ordinal scale (such as “low, medium, high,” or “bad, poor, fair,
good”). Selected indicators can be listed in a dashboard to provide a monitoring
tool to specialists and city managers.

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