Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Charles Towe, Dr. Ben Campbell

Field of Study

Agricultural and Resource Economics


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


In a changing climate, there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of hazards impacting coastal communities. Traditionally, hard defenses (sea walls) have been constructed to protect these communities, even though they can have negative impacts throughout the nearby coastal environment. There has been increasing consideration of alternative shoreline protection strategies, such as living shorelines, or managed retreat. However, each of these coastal management strategies comes with a series of monetary, environmental, and social tradeoffs making individual preferences dependent on multiple scenario-specific attributes. Ecosystem service valuation is a useful tool for understanding how humans relate to the environment around them. Since human and coastal systems are highly interlinked, it is important that researchers and those involved in coastal management better understand how humans value the environment that they are changing when designing coastal adaptation strategies. As such, this study explores the role of perception when valuing coastal protection alternatives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, namely, how one perceives climate change, attitude towards the government, and the proximity of one's residence to the coastline. Data from a stated preference survey was used to estimate a two-class latent class model. In general, members of both classes prefer plans that include a living shoreline. While none of the government attitude, proximity, or climate change variables were found to be significant in the latent class model, they did provide insight into the characteristics of respondents who always chose the same stated preference choice question plan.

Major Advisor

Dr. Stephen K. Swallow