Thursday, December 02, 2010

Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?

Isn't all economics about "animal instincts"?

Surely it must be "rational" to be a little scared of large man-eating animals? 2455 Swedes cannot be wrong.

It appears that we are rational which is not so good for wolves in Sweden.

The perhaps, not so shocking news, is that those who are scared of large carnivores are less likely to pay to have them on the doorstep.

Beware of the wolf: Is animal fear affecting willingness to pay for conservation of large carnivores?

Date: 2010-05-03

By: Brännlund, Runar (CERE)
Johansson, Maria (Department of Architecture and Built Environment)
Karlsson, Jens (Grimsö Wildlife Research Station)
Sjöström, Magnus (Department of Economics)


From an interdisciplinary approach, this study aims at analysing self-reported animal fear, specifically large carnivore fear, in relation to public willingness to financially contribute to fulfil a governmental policy on large carnivore-induced costs. In a survey of 2455 Swedes, it was found that people whose animal fear was directed particularly towards large carnivores, were less likely to be willing to pay (WTP), or were likely to be willing to pay a lower amount of money. In the prediction of WTP, the contribution of the fear variables was equally important as the socio-economic factors. From a management point of view it seems urgent to understand what kinds of measures that may reduce human fear of large carnivores. It is also suggested that further studies should include standardised measures of anxiety and fear in order to be able to closer link the results of large carnivore fear to the psychological literature on human fears.

Keywords: Carnivores; willingness-to-pay
JEL: Q51


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Local Exposure to Toxic Releases: Does Ethnic Diversity Matter?

After many years of work Matt Cole, myself and Kate Khemmarat have finally got our "environmental justice" paper out in working paper form.

This literature has seen a recent return to the academic agenda with Wayne Grey, Ronald Shadbegian and Ann Wolverton also putting out a recent papers on this topic.

Wayne B. Gray & Ronald J. Shadbegian & Ann Wolverton, 2010. "Environmental Justice: Do Poor and Minority Populations Face More Hazards?," NCEE Working Paper Series 201010, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Sep 2010.

# Ronald J. Shadbegian & Wayne B. Gray, 2009. "Spatial Patterns in Regulatory Enforcement: Local Tests of Environmental Justice," NCEE Working Paper Series 200902, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Jun 2009.

Local Exposure to Toxic Releases: Does Ethnic Diversity Matter? [PDF]

Date: 2010-11

By: Matthew A Cole
Robert J R Elliott
Khemrutai Khemmarat


This paper examines the role played by community characteristics in influencing local environmental quality, focusing specifically on ethnic diversity. In contrast to the previous literature, this study argues that it is the fractionalization and/or polarization of ethnic groups that is the relevant consideration, rather than the population share of ethnic minorities, since such diversity may significantly increase the difficulty of co-ordinating community action. Using toxic release data for the period 1990-1995 and, for the first time, 2000-2005, we find that measures of ethnic diversity do indeed influence local toxic release emissions. This finding persists across a range of robustness exercises.

Keywords: pollution, ethnic diversity, fractionalization, polarization, community characteristics, environmental justice
JEL: Q53


The Impact of Climate on Life Satisfaction

Straight from the economics department at the University of Birmingham comes a new paper that comes hot on the trail of David Cameron's speech on measuring "happiness" to be used alongside traditional GDP figures.

What if happiness is driven by the climate? What does that mean for the Cancun negotiations and David Cameron's grand plans?

It appears that people are happy when the climate is very average.

David Maddison and Katrin Rehanz investigate.

The Impact of Climate on Life Satisfaction [PDF]
Date: 2010-11

David Maddison
Katrin Rehdanz


We analyse the influence of climate on average life satisfaction in 87 countries using data from the World Values Survey. Climate is described in terms of ‘degree-months’ calculated using an optimally-selected base temperature of 65°F (18.3°C). Our results suggest that countries with climates characterised by a large number of degree-months enjoy significantly lower levels of life satisfaction. This finding is robust to a wide variety of model specifications. Using our results to analyse a particular climate change scenario associated with the IPCC A2 emissions scenario points to major losses for African countries, but modest gains for Northern Europe

Keywords: climate; climate change; happiness; life satisfaction; survey data
JEL: D60