Karen Clay (03/20/19)

Karen Clay

Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College

“Short-Run and Long-Run Impacts of Environmental Regulations on Firm Productivity: Evidence from the U.S. Electricity Sector, 1938-1999”

Abstract: Although economic costs of environmental regulations are widely debated, there is limited empirical evidence on the magnitude of these economic costs and the extent to which these costs persist over time. This paper quantifies the short-run and long-run efficiency costs of air quality regulations on the U.S. electricity production sector. The analysis draws on newly digitized annual, plant-level data on the vast majority of U.S fossil fuel fired power plants from 1938-1999. This sample allows us to examine the U.S. electricity industry both before and after the implementation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in 1972. To estimate the economic costs, we utilize a difference-in-differences framework where counties face different environmental regulations as they move in and out of attainment with NAAQS over time. We find that plants located in non-attainment counties experienced declines in TFP and production of 6.3\% and 7.0\%. The effects of nonattainment on TFP and generation are persistent over time. This suggests that existing plants did not adapt to environmental regulations such as NAAQS even in the long run.

Stephie Fried (03/06/19)

Stephie Fried

Arizona State University

“Seawalls and Stilts: A Quantitative Macro Study of Climate Adaption”

Abstract: Investment in adaptation capital reduces the damage from extreme weather, mitigating the welfare cost of climate change. Federal aid for disaster relief reduces the net costs to localities that experience extreme weather, decreasing their incentives to invest in adaptation capital. We develop a heterogenous-agent macro model to quantify the relationship between adaptation capital, federal disaster policy, and climate change. We find that federal aid for disaster relief substantially reduces adaptation investment. However, the federal subsidy for adaptation more than offsets this moral hazard effect. We introduce climate change into the model as a permanent, increase in the severity of extreme weather. We find that adaptation reduces the welfare cost of this climate change by 15-20 percent. Full Paper

Chris Timmins (02/20/19)

Chris Timmins

Duke University

“Housing Discrimination and the Pollution Exposure Gap in the United States” w/ Peter Christensen (UIUC)

Abstract: The choice of residential location is a critical economic decision for households in the United States. Recent research has shown that neighborhood pollution exposures can have significant effects on health outcomes, disproportionately affecting minority households. In this study, we combine experimental evidence on discrimination in the rental market for housing with observational evidence from a panel detailing the movements of 1.5 million renter households to study the extent to which discrimination constrains the housing choices of minorities and contributes to inequity in health outcomes. We find that renters with African American and Hispanic/LatinX names receive the exact same response rates to inquiries made for housing within a tight radius of plants that emit toxic pollutants (high exposure locations), while receiving up to 35% and 36% lower response rates at lower exposure locations in the same markets. We find that African American and Hispanic/LatinX renters in these markets move into high exposure neighborhoods at higher rates and move out at lower rates than similar white households, resulting in higher exposures to toxics and particularly during periods of pregnancy. These differences result in a 19% higher likelihood of in utero exposures to toxic emissions for children born in Hispanic/LatinX households and 16.6% higher likelihoods for children born in African American households. Full Paper