Abstract This paper is concerned with the empirical relationship between biodiversity conservation values and income. We use random effects panel models to examine the effects of income, and then GDP per capita, on willingness to pay for habitat and biodiversity conservation. In a meta-analysis, 145 Willingness To Pay estimates for biodiversity conservation where existence value plays a major role were collected from 46 contingent valuation studies across six continents. Other effects included in the meta-analysis were the study year; habitat type; continent; scope as presented to respondents; whether WTP bids were for preventing a deterioration or gaining an improvement in conservation, whether a specific species or specific habitat was protected; whether the questionnaire used a dichotomous choice or an open-ended format; distribution format; and the choice of payment vehicle. GDP per capita seemed to perform as well as an explanatory variable as respondent’s mean stated income, indicating that it is wealth in society as a whole which determines variations in WTP. Even if large variation, our main conclusion is, that the demand for biodiversity conservation rises with a nation’s wealth, but the income elasticity of willingness to pay is less than one.