Consequences of Space and Species Specifics in Estimates of Welfare

When assessing welfare implications from an invasive species or infectious disease important spatial or ecological components are often neglected or too aggregated. As a consequence, biased welfare estimates may misinform policy decisions. To understand the extent of this bias, the potential invasion of Asian Carp is used as the motivating case study. Asian Carp -- a non-indigenous aquatic invasive species (AIS) -- are projected to have spatially explicit and species-specic impacts on the lake environment and Great Lakes economy. A computable general equilibrium model (CGE) is built to link forecasted biomass data from the highly detailed Atlantis ecosystem model of Lake Michigan with recreational fishing behavior and the broader economy, to estimate economy-wide welfare effects in the event of an invasion. After generating welfare implications from the explicit space and species model, the results are compared to other simulated versions of the model; this approach uncovers biases that can exist in welfare estimates when space or species level information is ignored.

USGS Image of Jumping Silver Carp (Type of Asian Carp)

Controlling Coffee Rust Disease Amid Heterogenous Producer Response to Risk

Since 2012, coffee producers have suffered significant yield damages due to a widespread outbreak of coffee rust disease. This aggressive disease causes the plant to lose its leaves before it can flower and produce the coffee berry (or yield fruit). To protect their source of income and mitigate their risk, farmers in South and Central America may end up participating in activities that can harm the environment -- cutting down shade trees, applying additional chemicals, or abandoning production. Farmers are likely to respond to the risk and support policies in heterogenous ways, presenting problems for the governing bodies trying to implement the policies. Effective support is even harder to implement when the disease spreads spatially, because lack of treatment on one property has the potential to spread to neighboring properties. Therefore, to better inform what the government’s optimal policy or policies should be, I build an economic model that considers three types of farmers that differ in their coffee production approach. The model predicts spatial risk mitigation and crop mix strategies (or responses) for each farmer type, following an outbreak and implementation of policy interventions. 

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