Essays on water and energy economics
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The preferences and behavior of economic agents is often highly nuanced and heterogenous, having large impacts on the costs and benefits of different methods employed to acheive environmental goals, such as the production of green energy and the efficient allocation of water to residential use. The first chapter of this dissertaion studies local housing and labor market effects around US nuclear power plants from 1970 to 2000 through three major events: initial construction of the power plant, the Chernobyl accident, and plant closings. Heavily effected by preference-based sorting and mirgration, nuclear power plant placement lowers unemployment, and increases the education and skill level within the local labor pool. However, nuclear power plants also pose negative externalities: conditional upon labor market improvements, housing values around 10 miles of the nuclear plants decrease with plant placement and increase with plant closures. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Ukraine serves as an information shock to US residents. Intercontinental spillover effects result in lower US home ownership rates around US plants and reductions in housing values in the plume exposure pathway. The final chapter examines the impact of non-pecuniary incentives stemming from the behavioral economics literature on water demand. In a randomized field experiment social comparisons are found to significantly decrease water demand with substantial heterogeneity both across and within utilities. Higher users are more responsive to the program and there are important interactions between social norms and existing utility conservation programs. Water resources and energy supply face stress due to population growth, rising incomes, and climate change and these stressors will only increase in the future. This dissertation addresses key issues: influencing the demand for water and the side effects of commercial nuclear power supply and aims to increase knowledge and aid the public policy of both water management and the supply of green energy.
- Economics