Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Natural Resources Economics

Department

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics

First Advisor

Corey Lang

Abstract

In this dissertation I examine the economic impacts of harmful algal blooms. As blooms are occurring with more frequency and severity, understanding the impacts of them on coastal economies is paramount. In my first chapter, I use health record data to investigate changes in healthcare admissions during persistent blooms. Harmful algal blooms can cause a wide array of diseases, such as respiratory and digestive issues, as well as head and throat discomfort. I implement a Difference-in-Differences model and find that there are significant increases in admissions in areas impacted by blooms, relative to those more inland spared the effects. With increases in admissions, I estimate the added costs of a bloom incurred by impacted areas. In my second and third chapters, I explore the interaction of the commercial seafood market with harmful algal blooms. While harmful algal blooms can cause fish kills on beaches for miles, commercial fishing remains safe and legal. This is unknown to many, and the impacted area experiences significant drops in demand for seafood during blooms. In the second chapter, I implement the same approach as in Chapter 1, only this time I look at price and fishing effort during blooms. While price levels do not change, fishing effort does, suggesting an overall drop in total revenue generated during a bloom. In Chapter 3, I use data from a survey experiment I conducted in impacted bloom areas. The results of my Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression suggest two findings. First, that knowledge of the health of commercially caught seafood is lacking, and incorrect. Second, when given the correct information, respondents were much more likely to have increased demand for seafood than those not given any information. Across all three chapters of the dissertation, I show that mitigation of blooms must be of importance to policy makers whose economies rely on the health and availability of its coastal resources.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 06, 2023

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