Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

E. Jane Luzar


Environmental policy in the United States is increasingly relying on incentive-based mechanisms (IBM). Incentive-based mechanisms, are voluntary environmental management instruments based on free market environmentalism, a framework that attempts to harness market forces. A multi-disciplinary approach was developed to evaluate participation decisions in IBM's such as the Wetland Reserve Program. This approach extended the traditional utility maximization approach to choice behavior by including alternative measures of environmental attitudes based on the theory of reasoned action or the New Environmental Paradigm. The addition of these psychological constructs conceptually improved the utility maximization by allowing the consideration of well established determinants of behavior. Probit and Tobit models derived from the conceptual framework were empirically tested using primary data collected via a mail survey of Louisiana wetland owners. Results presented suggest that the acreage of wetlands owned, the level of information about the WRP, respondents' involvement in environmental organizations, education level, income, the number of people living in the household, and attitudes were significant in explaining Louisiana wetland owners' decision to offer to participate as well as the level of participation in the WRP. The significance of attitude measures as explanatory factors suggests that a successful implementation of IBM programs depends, in addition to getting the economic incentive "right", on properly addressing attitudinal concerns. Comparison between the specific attitude measures derived from the theory of reasoned action and the general NEP-based environmental attitude was inconclusive. Therefore, until further evaluation, these alternative measures can be used interchangeably.