UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Essays on environmental economics : environmental regulations and climate change adaptation Ravani Cecato, Bianca


In Chapter 1, I study how newspaper closures affect environmental monitoring and enforcement activities conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. First, I propose a model of regulatory behaviour where newspapers influence the regulator’s optimal probability of detecting environmental violations, by working as vehicles of information dissemination about firms’ environmental performance. I then use a difference-in-differences estimator to estimate the impact of newspaper closures on enforcement activities conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency. I find that a daily newspaper closure leads to a drop in the number of inspections, detected violations, and enforcement actions that is within a range of 8-22 percentage points of their yearly averages. In Chapter 2, I investigate two mechanisms that are behind the drop in monitoring and enforcement activities following a newspaper closure. First, consistent with the information mechanism I propose in the model presented in Chapter 1, I find evidence that newspapers serve as an informant to the regulator about potential sources of environmental violations, reducing the cost of detecting a violation. Second, I find that newspapers inform regulated facilities about enforcement activities conducted in other facilities within the same state and industry. The second information mechanism enhances compliance spillover effects of EPA activities, improving the effectiveness of regulation enforcement. Chapter 3 uses a longitudinal survey from Indonesia to examine whether the effects of droughts on individual consumption are mitigated by the ability to migrate. By instrumenting between survey migration with pre-existing migrant networks, we show that one standard deviation drop in annual precipitation in the origin location reduces consumption by 1.82% for non-migrant individuals, but that migrants are actually able to increase consumption. Given a one standard deviation drop in annual precipitation, the ability to migrate leads to an increase of about 13.9% in consumption over the medium run. Migration is a potentially important way to mitigate the costs of being exposed to extreme weather events that are a result of climate change, and these results suggest that removing barriers to migration is a promising strategy for mitigating climate damages.

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