Abstract: Reductions in natural capital can result in complicated knock-on effects that can connect seemingly unrelated outcomes. This paper focuses on the specific setting where pesticides, a form of non-point source pollution, are used to compensate for falling levels of naturally provided pest-control. I use a natural experiment and find the first causally interpretable results for the adverse health effects of pesticides. Identification exploits mortality shocks to bats – a major predator of insects – that result from the unexpected emergence of a wildlife disease known as White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS first emerged in the U.S. in 2006 and started to gradually spread across counties. I use a Difference-In-Differences strategy and find that farmers increase their use of insecticides by 39.6% relative to their mean use. Because insects carry fungi between plants, the use of fungicides increases as well by 20.1% relative to the mean. Using linked birth and death certificates I focus on infant mortality due to non-violent causes for births that were conceived during the pesticides application season of April through July. The infant mortality rate increases by 1.01 deaths per 1,000 births in the counties exposed to WNS. This is driven mostly by female infant mortality and represents an increase of 14.5% relative to the mean. These results suggest that mixtures of pesticide compounds can affect health even if each compound is used below its regulatory threshold.
Abstract: Traders in illegal wildlife markets have incomplete information regarding the scarcity of different species. If poachers and collectors are targeting rare species, then information shocks on species’ rarity could adversely affect conservation efforts. In this paper I use monthly level data on extinction risk updates, for the period of 2002-2010, and match it with wildlife import data into the U.S. Using a non-parametric event study strategy I demonstrate that information shocks on the extinction risk of species lead to an increase in trade levels by 2.47 to 3.11 standard deviations, relative to the baseline period prior to the update. These results provide evidence that publicly revealing updates about the extinction risks of species can result in better coordination between supply and demand in wildlife trade markets. Therefore, monitoring and enforcement efforts could improve their effectiveness by increasing their focus on species that receive such information shocks.
Abstract: Protecting species from extinction presents trade-offs between economic production, and conservation. Preserving habitats that are critical to the survival of species of interest, often involves placing constraints on economic activities in those areas. Firms claim that such regulations result in the loss of jobs. However, this claim is predominantly supported using simulations from computable general equilibrium models, and not by observational data following such regulatory steps. In this paper, I examine the effect on labor markets following the designation of critical habitats as part of the conservation plan to protect the Northern Spotted Owl in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Using both Difference-In-Differences, Triple-Differences, and Synthetic Control Methods I find that employment went down between 31-65% in the affected counties, and estimate that this led to a decline of 63,561 jobs in the Lumber & Wood sector.
Work in Progress: