Environment and Development
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
- Chair: Tom Vogl, Princeton University
The Economics of Enforcement
AbstractCurbing undesirable behaviors through regulation is difficult when regulated agents react to the new regime in unanticipated ways to circumvent enforcement. Countries with limited institutional capacity therefore rely on indirect methods to encourage compliance with socially desirable actions. This project implements a randomized-controlled trial to evaluate two complementary interventions to reduce over-fishing of the critically endangered Pacific hake fish during the fish’s reproduction cycle in September: (1) Monitoring and penalizing vendors that sell illegal fish during September and (2) Informing consumers about the environmental problem through an information campaign designed to discourage the consumption of hake during the ban. Both strategies, in isolation or in combination, reduce fresh hake sales. Vendors react to enforcement and attempt to circumvent the ban through hidden sales and other means, which we track using secret shoppers. Random variation in the specifics of the enforcement strategy shows that less predictable monitoring visits are much more effective in curbing hake sales than visits that occur on a predictable schedule. Details of enforcement policy design are therefore crucial in determining the sustained, longer-term effects of enforcement.
Cash for Carbon: A Randomized Trial of Payments for Ecosystem Services to Reduce Deforestation
AbstractWe evaluated a program of payments for ecosystem services in Uganda that offered forest-owning households annual payments of 70,000 Ugandan shillings (28 USD) per hectare if they conserved their forest. The program was implemented as a randomized controlled trial in 121 villages, 60 of which received the program for 2 years. The primary outcome was the change in land area covered by trees, measured by classifying high-resolution satellite imagery. We found that tree cover declined by 4.2% during the study period in treatment villages, compared to 9.1% in control villages.We found no evidence that enrollees shifted their deforestation to nearby land.We valued the delayed carbon dioxide emissions and found that this program benefit is 2.4 times as large as the program costs.
Agriculture, Fire, and Infant Health
AbstractFire has long served as a tool in agriculture, but the practice's inherent link with economic activity has made its human capital consequences difficult to study. Drawing on data from satellites, air monitors, and vital records, we study how smoke from sugarcane harvest fires affects infant health in the Brazilian state that produces one-fifth of the world's sugarcane. Because fires track economic activity, we exploit changes in wind direction for identification, finding that late-pregnancy exposure to upwind fires decreases birth weight, gestational length, and in utero survival, but not early neonatal survival. Other fires positively predict health, highlighting the importance of disentangling pollution from the economic activities that drive it.
University of California-Santa Barbara
Benjamin A. Olken,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Q5 - Environmental Economics
- O1 - Economic Development