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Environmental and Resource Economics

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Resources and Sustainable Utilization".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2011) | Viewed by 91036

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8109, USA
Interests: urban land-use and environmental quality; valuation of natural resources and the environment; experimental economics; non-market valuation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This issue of Sustainability aims to present current theoretical and applied work employing the tools of economics to advance our understanding of sustainable resource management and development.  Although the concepts of “sustainability” and “sustainable development” are somewhat amorphous, the development and analysis of policies designed to improve societal impacts on the environment - while also improving the human condition - are not.  The conceptual and empirical tools of environmental and natural resource economics provide a critical foundation for the formulation of sound policies to manage the overlapping human and environmental systems.

We welcome submissions of theoretical and applied economics papers, as well as critical reviews of the extant literature, which address one or more areas of environmental and natural resource management.   Topical areas for consideration include, but are not limited to, valuation and payments for ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, renewable and nonrenewable energy markets, water and air resource management, land-use policy, natural resource management, agriculture and economic development, and all aspects of climate change.

Prof. Dr. Laura O. Taylor
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • sustainable development
  • environmental economics
  • natural resource economics
  • ecological economics
  • environmental policy

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

267 KiB  
Article
Are Green Taxes a Good Way to Help Solve State Budget Deficits?
by Rong Zhou and Kathleen Segerson
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1329-1353; https://doi.org/10.3390/su4061329 - 18 Jun 2012
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 7542
Abstract
States are increasingly turning to environmental taxes as a means of raising revenue. These taxes are often thought to generate a double dividend: an environmental dividend stemming from the environmental improvement, and an economic dividend resulting from use of the revenue from environmental [...] Read more.
States are increasingly turning to environmental taxes as a means of raising revenue. These taxes are often thought to generate a double dividend: an environmental dividend stemming from the environmental improvement, and an economic dividend resulting from use of the revenue from environmental taxes to reduce other distortionary taxes (e.g., income or sales taxes). We review the economic literature on the double-dividend hypothesis, and show explicitly that the conditions under which the second dividend exists are less likely to hold when the amount of revenue that would be raised by an optimal environmental tax is small relative to the tax revenue from other taxes. We then present estimates of the potential revenue that could be raised from two environmental taxes in Connecticut. The results suggest that, because of their small tax base, environmental taxes are likely to have limited potential to raise revenue to finance state government budget deficits and/or reduce other distortionary taxes. Overall, environmental taxes could still generate significant gains for society if they lead to significant improvements in environmental quality. However, without more evidence of the existence of a double dividend, states should not try to justify these taxes on the basis of raising revenue more efficiently. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
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360 KiB  
Article
The Architecture and Measurement of an Ecosystem Services Index
by H. Spencer Banzhaf and James Boyd
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 430-461; https://doi.org/10.3390/su4040430 - 23 Mar 2012
Cited by 39 | Viewed by 10949
Abstract
This paper discusses the construction of an ecosystem services index (ESI) and the respective roles of ecology and economics in that effort. It extends the concept of an ESI, analogous to Gross Domestic Product, to other analogous indices, including an ecosystem price or [...] Read more.
This paper discusses the construction of an ecosystem services index (ESI) and the respective roles of ecology and economics in that effort. It extends the concept of an ESI, analogous to Gross Domestic Product, to other analogous indices, including an ecosystem price or value index, and a net ESI that accounts for interactions between ecosystem stocks and service flows. A central aim of this paper is to account for services in an economically and ecologically defensible manner. It thus also discusses the connection between ecological models and economic models in the construction of ecosystem services indices, the former on the quantity side and the latter on the price/value side of the index. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
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680 KiB  
Article
The Economic Value of Mangroves: A Meta-Analysis
by Marwa E. Salem and D. Evan Mercer
Sustainability 2012, 4(3), 359-383; https://doi.org/10.3390/su4030359 - 7 Mar 2012
Cited by 112 | Viewed by 20102
Abstract
This paper presents a synthesis of the mangrove ecosystem valuation literature through a meta-regression analysis. The main contribution of this study is that it is the first meta-analysis focusing solely on mangrove forests, whereas previous studies have included different types of wetlands. The [...] Read more.
This paper presents a synthesis of the mangrove ecosystem valuation literature through a meta-regression analysis. The main contribution of this study is that it is the first meta-analysis focusing solely on mangrove forests, whereas previous studies have included different types of wetlands. The number of studies included in the regression analysis is 44 for a total of 145 observations. We include several regressions with the objective of addressing outliers in the data as well as the possible correlations between observations of the same study. We also investigate possible interaction effects between type of service and GDP per capita. Our findings indicate that mangroves exhibit decreasing returns to scale, that GDP per capita has a positive effect on mangrove values and that using the replacement cost and contingent valuation methods produce higher estimates than do other methods. We also find that there are statistically significant interaction effects that influence the data. Finally, the results indicate that employing weighted regressions provide a better fit than others. However, in terms of forecast performance we find that all the estimated models performed similarly and were not able to conclude decisively that one outperforms the other. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
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394 KiB  
Article
Valuing Ecosystem Services with Fishery Rents: A Lumped-Parameter Approach to Hypoxia in the Neuse River Estuary
by Martin D. Smith and Larry B. Crowder
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2229-2267; https://doi.org/10.3390/su3112229 - 17 Nov 2011
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 7473
Abstract
Valuing ecosystem services with microeconomic underpinnings presents challenges because these services typically constitute nonmarket values and contribute to human welfare indirectly through a series of ecological pathways that are dynamic, nonlinear, and difficult to quantify and link to appropriate economic spatial and temporal [...] Read more.
Valuing ecosystem services with microeconomic underpinnings presents challenges because these services typically constitute nonmarket values and contribute to human welfare indirectly through a series of ecological pathways that are dynamic, nonlinear, and difficult to quantify and link to appropriate economic spatial and temporal scales. This paper develops and demonstrates a method to value a portion of ecosystem services when a commercial fishery is dependent on the quality of estuarine habitat. Using a lumped-parameter, dynamic open access bioeconomic model that is spatially explicit and includes predator-prey interactions, this paper quantifies part of the value of improved ecosystem function in the Neuse River Estuary when nutrient pollution is reduced. Specifically, it traces the effects of nitrogen loading on the North Carolina commercial blue crab fishery by modeling the response of primary production and the subsequent impact on hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen). Hypoxia, in turn, affects blue crabs and their preferred prey. The discounted present value fishery rent increase from a 30% reduction in nitrogen loadings in the Neuse is $2.56 million, though this welfare estimate is fairly sensitive to some parameter values. Surprisingly, this number is not sensitive to initial conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
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262 KiB  
Article
Testing the Environmental Kuznets Curve Hypothesis for Biodiversity Risk in the US: A Spatial Econometric Approach
by Justin Tevie, Kristine M. Grimsrud and Robert P. Berrens
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2182-2199; https://doi.org/10.3390/su3112182 - 16 Nov 2011
Cited by 31 | Viewed by 9823
Abstract
This study investigates whether the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) relationship is supported for a measure of biodiversity risk and economic development across the United States (US). Using state-level data for all 48 contiguous states, biodiversity risk is measured using a Modified Index (MODEX). [...] Read more.
This study investigates whether the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) relationship is supported for a measure of biodiversity risk and economic development across the United States (US). Using state-level data for all 48 contiguous states, biodiversity risk is measured using a Modified Index (MODEX). This index is an adaptation of a comprehensive National Biodiversity Risk Assessment Index. The MODEX differs from other measures in that it is takes into account the impact of human activities and conservation measures. The econometric approach includes corrections for spatial autocorrelation effects, which are present in the data. Modeling estimation results do not support the EKC hypothesis for biodiversity risk in the US. This finding is robust over ordinary least squares, spatial error, and spatial lag models, where the latter is shown to be the preferred model. Results from the spatial lag regression show that a 1% increase in human population density is associated with about a 0.19% increase in biodiversity risk. Spatial dependence in this case study explains 30% of the variation, as risk in one state spills over into adjoining states. From a policy perspective, this latter result supports the need for coordinated efforts at state and federal levels to address the problem of biodiversity loss. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
475 KiB  
Article
Inserting Ecological Detail into Economic Analysis: Agricultural Nutrient Loading of an Estuary Fishery
by David Finnoff and John Tschirhart
Sustainability 2011, 3(10), 1688-1722; https://doi.org/10.3390/su3101688 - 30 Sep 2011
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 7927
Abstract
Linked general equilibrium economic and ecological models are connected through agricultural runoff and the fisheries. They are applied to a North Carolina estuary in which agricultural runoff alters phytoplankton densities and the resulting hypoxia leads to diminished fisheries. The effects of hypoxia on [...] Read more.
Linked general equilibrium economic and ecological models are connected through agricultural runoff and the fisheries. They are applied to a North Carolina estuary in which agricultural runoff alters phytoplankton densities and the resulting hypoxia leads to diminished fisheries. The effects of hypoxia on multiple species across space are analyzed and the joint economic and ecosystem wide response to a policy of reduced runoff is quantified. The approach provides an assessment of changes in ecological welfare (in terms of species populations) and economic welfare (in terms of equivalent variations) following reductions in runoff. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
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285 KiB  
Article
Do Respondents’ Perceptions of the Status Quo Matter in Non-Market Valuation with Choice Experiments? An Application to New Zealand Freshwater Streams
by Dan Marsh, Lena Mkwara and Riccardo Scarpa
Sustainability 2011, 3(9), 1593-1615; https://doi.org/10.3390/su3091593 - 23 Sep 2011
Cited by 44 | Viewed by 9987
Abstract
Many issues relating to the sustainability of environmental resource use are informed by environmental valuation studies with stated preference surveys. Within these, researchers often provide descriptions of status quo conditions which may differ from those perceived by respondents. Ignoring this difference in utility [...] Read more.
Many issues relating to the sustainability of environmental resource use are informed by environmental valuation studies with stated preference surveys. Within these, researchers often provide descriptions of status quo conditions which may differ from those perceived by respondents. Ignoring this difference in utility baselines may affect the magnitude of estimated utility changes and hence bias benefit estimates of proposed environmental policies. We investigate this issue using data from a choice experiment on a community’s willingness to pay for water quality improvements in streams. More than 60% of respondents perceived streams’ water quality at the status quo to be better than the description we provided in our scenario. Results show that respondents who could provide details of their perception of the status quo displayed stronger preferences for water quality improvements—and hence higher marginal willingness to pay—than their counterparts. However, respondents who referred to their own status quo description displayed a higher inclination to prefer the status quo, while other respondents tended to prefer the proposed improvements. We argue this might be linked to the amount of knowledge each group displayed about the status quo: a kind of reluctance to leave what one believes he/she knows well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
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324 KiB  
Article
Accounting for Sustainability: A Dissenting Opinion
by Robert D. Cairns
Sustainability 2011, 3(9), 1341-1356; https://doi.org/10.3390/su3091341 - 29 Aug 2011
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 7827
Abstract
Discounted-utilitarian welfare, the commonest social objective studied by economists, is the basis for the theory of green accounting in terms of social utility. Sustainability is a different type of social objective. Consequently, green accounting as derived in many empirical models is not appropriate [...] Read more.
Discounted-utilitarian welfare, the commonest social objective studied by economists, is the basis for the theory of green accounting in terms of social utility. Sustainability is a different type of social objective. Consequently, green accounting as derived in many empirical models is not appropriate for studying sustainability. Maximin is a consistent foundation for the analysis of sustainability, both weak and strong, that provides conceptually correct accounting prices. These prices are not yet practicable for real economies, however, and must await further advances. Sustainable development is a generalization of the notion of sustainability and can be analyzed using a generalization of maximin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
1336 KiB  
Article
Continuum of Risk Analysis Methods to Assess Tillage System Sustainability at the Experimental Plot Level
by Eihab M. Fathelrahman, James C. Ascough II, Dana L. Hoag, Robert W. Malone, Philip Heilman, Lori J. Wiles and Ramesh S. Kanwar
Sustainability 2011, 3(7), 1035-1063; https://doi.org/10.3390/su3071035 - 20 Jul 2011
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 8704
Abstract
This study applied a broad continuum of risk analysis methods including mean-variance and coefficient of variation (CV) statistical criteria, second-degree stochastic dominance (SSD), stochastic dominance with respect to a function (SDRF), and stochastic efficiency with respect to a function (SERF) for comparing income-risk [...] Read more.
This study applied a broad continuum of risk analysis methods including mean-variance and coefficient of variation (CV) statistical criteria, second-degree stochastic dominance (SSD), stochastic dominance with respect to a function (SDRF), and stochastic efficiency with respect to a function (SERF) for comparing income-risk efficiency sustainability of conventional and reduced tillage systems. Fourteen years (1990–2003) of economic budget data derived from 35 treatments on 36 experimental plots under corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L.) at the Iowa State University Northeast Research Station near Nashua, IA, USA were used. In addition to the other analyses, a visually-based Stoplight or “probability of target value” procedure was employed for displaying gross margin and net return probability distribution information. Mean-variance and CV analysis of the economic measures alone provided somewhat contradictive and inconclusive sustainability rankings, i.e., corn/soybean gross margin and net return showed that different tillage system alternatives were the highest ranked depending on the criterion and type of crop. Stochastic dominance analysis results were similar for SSD and SDRF in that both the conventional and reduced tillage system alternatives were highly ranked depending on the type of crop and tillage system. For the SERF analysis, results were dependent on the type of crop and level of risk aversion. The conventional tillage system was preferred for both corn and soybean for the Stoplight analysis. The results of this study are unique in that they highlight the potential of both traditional stochastic dominance and SERF methods for distinguishing economically sustainable choices between different tillage systems across a range of risk aversion. This study also indicates that the SERF risk analysis method appears to be a useful and easily understood tool to assist farm managers, experimental researchers, and potentially policy makers and advisers on problems involving agricultural risk and sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
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