UNESCO World Heritage List

  • Bruno S. FreyEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Economics book series (BRIEFSECONOMICS)


The World Heritage List compiles built and natural sites and more recently also intangible traditions and customs judged to be of “outstanding value to humanity” by a commission of UNESCO. The main goals are to draw attention to sites and traditions in danger of disappearing and to assist in preserving them. There are some negative effects: questionable selection; undue political intervention; overextension; and attracting destruction in conflicts. There are alternatives to the UNESCO List. Sometimes no intervention is needed, in some cases market forces can be employed, and several other evaluations are available about what is worth preserving.


UNESCO Selection Attention Protection Political intervention Overextension Destruction Alternatives to Heritage List Competing evaluations Random selection Popular sites 

Related Literature

This chapter partly relies on

  1. Frey BS (1997) The evaluation of cultural heritage. Some critical issues. In: Hutter H, Rizzo I (eds) Economic perspectives on cultural heritage. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp 31–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Frey BS, Pamini P (2010) World heritage: where are we? An empirical analysis. CESifo Working Paper No. 2919. Ifo Institute, MunichGoogle Scholar
  3. Frey BS, Steiner L (2012) Pay as you go: a new proposal for museum pricing. Museum Manage Curatorship 27(2):223–235Google Scholar

The World Heritage List is presented in

  1. UNESCO (2017) Operational guidelines for the implementation of the world heritage convention:

Important contributions from the economic point of view include

  1. Benhamou F (1996) Is increased public spending for the preservation of historic monuments inevitable? The French case. J Cultural Econ 20(2):115– 131Google Scholar
  2. Greffe X (1999) La gestion du patrimoine culturel. Anthropos, ParisGoogle Scholar

The relationship between heritage sites and terrorist attacks is analysed in

  1. Frey BS, Rohner D (2007) Protecting cultural monuments against terrorism. Defence Peace Econ 18(3):245–252Google Scholar

An alternative list of valuable heritage sites is, for example, provided in

  1. Schultze P (2003) 1000 places to see before you die: A traveller’s life list. Workman Publishing, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Random procedures for selection are discussed in

  1. Zeitoun H, Osterloh M, Frey BS (2014) Learning from ancient Athens: demarchy and corporate governance. Acad Manage Perspect 28(1):1–14Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CREW - Center for Research in Economics and Well-BeingUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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