Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage
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Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa

Cultural heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. The Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage outlines the contribution of economics to the design and analysis of cultural heritage policies and to addressing issues related to the conservation, management and enhancement of heritage.
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Chapter 17: Market effects of historic preservation

Douglas S. Noonan


One of the more fundamental components of cultural policy is the preservation of a society’s heritage, especially its historic buildings and structures. These historic buildings represent a culture’s aesthetics, history and architectural achievements. Heritage preservation policy focuses on large and public structures as symbols of local, national, or even global heritage. Most policies identify these symbols first via their historical standing, often concentrating on older and endangered buildings. Policy thus emphasizes the maintenance and preservation of these venerated structures. The process of doing so has several interesting implications and challenges for market economies. The impact of historic preservation in markets defies simple characterizations in practice because the very essence of the historic properties is, by its nature, interwoven with the broader community through both cultural channels and market forces. The result of historic preservation is a complex situation where unintended consequences come into play. Moreover, the indirect effects of historic preservation policies may be far more important than the direct ones. The actual preservation of some physical manifestation of heritage, in practice, is often a subsidiary goal to other aims like economic development or urban planning. The complex context of implementing historic preservation policies in real estate markets warrants careful untangling before sense can be made of the evidence uncovered to date.

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