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More is worse: the evolution of quality of the UNESCO World Heritage List and its determinants

Martina Dattilo, Fabio Padovano and Yvon Rocaboy
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Martina Dattilo: CREM - Centre de recherche en économie et management - UNICAEN - Université de Caen Normandie - NU - Normandie Université - UR - Université de Rennes - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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Abstract: This paper empirically analyzes the evolution of the quality of the sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage List (WHL) from 1972 till 2016 and verifies how consideration of quality affects the conclusions of the literature about the politics of the WHL. The quality of a site is proxied by the number of criteria set by UNESCO that the site satisfies. The analysis shows that, under a fixed stock of cultural and natural capital, as a country increases the number of sites in the WHL, their marginal quality decreases, because countries propose sites of decreasing quality over time. Contrary to previous studies focusing just on the number of sites included in the list, considering quality shows that the country's lobbying power does not matter for inclusion in the WHL, while the quality of its administration does. These results are robust to tests of the stability of the UNESCO evaluation criteria over time and to changes of econometric estimators.

Keywords: UNESCO world heritage list; International organizations; Measurement of quality; Efficiency of public administration; Rent-seeking; Cultural capital (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Published in Journal of Cultural Economics, 2022, ⟨10.1007/s10824-021-09439-y⟩

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DOI: 10.1007/s10824-021-09439-y

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