Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Natural Resources


Many of the benefits that are generated by the natural environment are external to normal market transactions and are consequently undervalued and under-provisioned even though they substantially contribute to human welfare. One approach to valuing certain environmental goods and services is through a regression technique known as the property hedonic model. This model considers a property as a bundle of attributes where the total price of the property is decomposed into marginal, implicit prices for property-specific attributes, the context or neighborhood in which a property resides and access to environmental amenities. The goal of this dissertation research is to estimate the value of proximity to the environmental amenities of parks and open spaces using a property hedonic model for the City of Baltimore and suburban areas of Baltimore County. While the property hedonic model has been commonly used to value environmental benefits, few of these studies have distinguished the spatial scales of neighborhood characteristics from the property-specific characteristics within a regression model. In this research, a multilevel modeling approach to the typical property hedonic model was used to model the effects of attributes at different spatial scales. This approach also allowed the effect of environmental attributes to vary across geographic space and interact with attributes across spatial scales. Such methods provide a more realistic accounting of the dynamic spatial variation of the value of environmental goods and services. For parks in the City of Baltimore, the results of valuing proximity to parks showed a spatial dynamic not often captured in property hedonics. The overall fixed effect for distance to park was negative but insignificant. When allowed to vary by block group, the random effect for this variable indicated that only two-thirds of the 401 neighborhoods positively valued increased proximity to parks. No interactions were found to be significant for the entire study. However, for the population of block groups whose properties did positively value proximity to parks, the results of interactions with neighborhood and park characteristics showed that smaller and more open parks were valued higher than larger and more wooded parks. A high population density also increased the value for a property in close proximity to a park. Finally, properties with smaller yards placed a higher value on proximity to parks than those properties with larger yards, indicating a substitution effect. For open space in Baltimore County, the results indicated that while higher proportions of privately-owned open space surrounding a property increased the value of that property, open space that was publicly-accessible was not significantly valued. Privately-owned open space that was potentially developable was less than half the value of the positive effect of private, open space under conservation easements or other development restrictions.