Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Natural Resources Economics

Department

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics

First Advisor

Emi Uchida

Abstract

One of the things that makes economics such an interesting social science sub-field to study is the analysis of unintended or unforeseen consequences. In order for policies to be efficient and equitable, it is important to first understand how endogenous policy decisions and exogenous events can affect communities either directly or indirectly. In this dissertation research, I examine how communities react to discrete environmental events over time. I do so in the context of tropical storm and hurricane activity in U.S. counties and media markets as well as land conservation spending decisions in Massachusetts and New Jersey municipalities. Using micro-level data on environmental events and behavior in difference-in-differences and dynamic regression discontinuity frameworks, I test whether: (1) hurricane strikes affect poverty levels in impacted counties, (2) tropical storms and hurricanes create a window of opportunity where the affected population is interested in taking action to mitigate against future costs, and (3) local municipal conservation actions cause crowd-in or crowd-out conservation behavior from the state and neighboring local governments. The use of micro-level data (at the sub-state level) allows for the possibility of rigorous treatment identification that hold important implications for policymakers in all three settings.

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