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Globalization and Wage Convergence: Mexico and the United States

Neoclassical trade theory suggests that factor price convergence should follow increased commercial integration. Rising commercial integration and foreign direct investment followed the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Mexico. This paper evaluates the degree of wage convergence between Mexico and the United States between 1988 and 2011. We apply a synthetic panel approach to employment survey data and a more descriptive approach to Census data from Mexico and the US. First, we find no evidence of long-run wage convergence among cohorts characterized by low migration propensities although this was, in part, due to large macroeconomic shocks. On the other hand, we do find some evidence of convergence for workers with high migration propensities. Finally, we find evidence of convergence in the border of Mexico vis-à-vis its interior in the 1990s but this was reversed in the 2000s.

WORKING PAPER


Optimal groundwater management when recharge is declining: a method for valuing the recharge benefits of watershed conservation

Demand for water will continue to increase as per capita income rises and the population grows, and climate change can exacerbate the problem through changes in precipitation patterns and quantities, evapotranspiration, and land cover—all of which directly or indirectly affect the amount of water that ultimately infiltrates back into groundwater aquifers. We develop a dynamic management framework that incorporates alternative climate-change (and hence, recharge) scenarios and apply it to the Pearl Harbor aquifer system on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. By calculating the net present value of water for a variety of plausible climate scenarios, we are able to estimate the indirect value of groundwater recharge that would be generated by watershed conservation activities. Enhancing recharge increases welfare by lowering the scarcity value of water in both the near term and the future, as well as delaying the need for costly alternatives such as desalination. For a reasonable range of parameter values, we find that the present value gain of maintaining recharge ranges from 31.1million to over1.5 billion.

Published version: Burnett, K. and Wada, C.A., 2014. Optimal groundwater management when recharge is declining: a method for valuing the recharge benefits of watershed conservation. Environmental Economics and Policy Studies. In Press.

WORKING PAPER


Global Value Chains and Trade Elasticities

Previous studies have argued that global value chains (GVCs) have increased the sensitivity of trade to external business cycle shocks. This may occur either because GVC trade is concentrated in durable goods industries, which are known to have high income elasticities (a composition effect), or because, within industries, GVC trade has a higher income elasticity than regular trade (a supply chain effect). Using Chinese trade data across customs regimes and industries during the period 1995-2009, we find evidence for the former, but not the latter.

WORKING PAPER


The Effect of Plan B on Teen Abortions: Evidence From the 2006 FDA Ruling

The 2006 FDA ruling made Plan B, the popular brand of emergency contraception (EC), available without a doctor's prescription to women 18 and older; women younger than 18 still have to produce a doctor's prescription for the drug. We hypothesize that since unplanned pregnancies are more likely to be terminated, an increase in the availability of EC may lead to a decrease in the abortion rate among women affected by the ruling. Therefore, in the absence of a change in the sexual risk taking, we expect to observe a decline in the abortion rate among women aged 18 and 19 after 2006, and expect no change in the abortion rate for women aged 15 and 16. We use the difference-in-difference methodology on the age-by-year-by-state abortion data to test this hypothesis. In contrast to the related literature, we find a moderate reduction in abortion rates among women age 18 and 19 in years after 2006 in states that were affected by the change, compared to changes in the control group in the same states. Yet, we do not observe a similar large change in abortion rates among women age 20-24.

WORKING PAPER


Unemployment and Mortality: Evidence from the PSID

We use micro-data to investigate the relationship between unemployment and mortality in the United States using Logistic regression on a sample of over 16,000 individuals. We consider baselines from 1984 to 1993 and investigate mortality up to ten years from the baseline. We show that poor local labor market conditions are associated with higher mortality risk for working-aged men and, specifically, that a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate increases their probability of dying within one year of baseline by 6%. There is little to no such relationship for people with weaker labor force attachments such as women or the elderly. Our results contribute to a growing body of work that suggests that poor economic conditions pose health risks and illustrate an important contrast with studies based on aggregate data.

WORKING PAPER


Integrating Demand-Management with Development of Supply-Side Substitutes

Sustaining water availability at current prices in the face of growing demand and declining resources is not possible, and scarcity is further exacerbated by falling recharge levels due to climate change, urbanization, and watershed depreciation. We discuss an integrated approach to water-resource development based on principles of sustainability science. In addition to demand management such as pricing, we consider supply-side substitutes such as desalination and wastewater recycling. The importance of integrating demand- and supply-side approaches is especially evident in the case of watershed conservation as climate adaptation. Watershed conservation reduces scarcity by improving groundwater recharge. Yet, incorrect pricing can waste those potential gains. We discuss a joint management strategy, wherein block prices for groundwater consumption and co-determined prices for watershed conservation incentivize and finance efficient profiles of both.

WORKING PAPER


Ordering Extraction from Multiple Aquifers

Optimal groundwater extraction satisfies the condition that the marginal benefits of water consumption equal the full marginal cost of extraction in each period, including the opportunity cost of future benefits foregone. But how should this well-known condition be generalized when there are multiple aquifers available? We provide an extension of the “Pearce equation” to guide the optimal ordering of resource extraction and an illustrative application wherein it is optimal to extract from the “leakiest” aquifer first, letting another aquifer increase in volume. This generalized least cost-first principle contrasts strongly with the sustainable yield approach. By including spatial dimensions, the model provides the marginal valuations of water at each time and place, such that full marginal cost pricing can incentivize users to implement the efficient program. While an untrammeled water market would fail to provide the optimal solution, regulators can facilitate efficient water trading by setting appropriate exchange rates.

WORKING PAPER


A Policy Analysis of Hawaii's Solar Tax Credit Incentive

This study uses Hawaii as an illustrative case study in state level tax credits for PV. We examine the role of Hawaii’s tax credit policy in PV deployment, including distributional and tax payer impacts. Hawaii is interesting because its electricity rates are nearly four times the national average as well as has a 35% tax credit for PV, capped at $5,000 per system. We find that PV is an excellent investment for Hawaii’s homeowners, even without the state tax credit. For the typical household, the internal rate of return with the state tax credit is about 14% and, without it, 10%. Moreover, the vast majority of installations are demanded by households with the median income and higher. We estimate that single-family homeowner’s in Hawaii may demand as much as 1,100 MW of PV. There are, however, significant grid constraints. Policy currently limits PV generation to no more than 15% of peak load for any given circuit, or approximately 3% of aggregate electricity demand. Tax credits are therefore not likely to increase the overall deployment of PV, but rather spread the cost of installation from homeowners to taxpayers and accelerate the rate at which Hawaii reaches grid restrictions.

WORKING PAPER


Intergenerational Equity with Individual Impatience in an OLG Model of Optimal and Sustainable Growth

Among the ethical objections to intergenerational impartiality is the violation of consumer sovereignty given that individuals are impatient. We accommodate that concern by distinguishing intra- and inter-generational discounting in an OLG model suitable for analyzing sustainability issues. Under the assumption of constant elasticity of marginal felicity, the optimum trajectory of aggregate consumption is guided, via the Ramsey condition, by the intergenerational discount rate but not the personal discount rate. In an economy with produced capital and a renewable resource, intergenerational neutrality results in a sustained growth path, without the necessity of a sustainability constraint, even in the presence of intragenerational impatience. We also find that green net national product remains constant along the optimal approach path to golden rule consumption.

Published version: Endress, L.H., Pongkijvorasin, S., Roumasset, J., Wada, C.A., 2013. Intergenerational equity with individual impatience in a model of optimal and sustainable growth. Resource and Energy Economics. In Press.

WORKING PAPER


How Have Catch Shares Been Allocated?

 A unique database was created that describes the methods used to allocate shares in nearly every major catch share fishery in the world. Approximately 54% of the major catch share fisheries in the world allocated the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) solely on the basis of historical catch records, 3% used auctions, and 6% used equal sharing rules. The remaining 37% used a combination of methods, including vessel-based rules. These results confirm the widely-held belief that nearly all catch share programs have “grandfathered” private access to fishery resources: 91% of the fisheries in the database allocated some fraction of the TAC on the basis of historical catch. This publicly available database should be a useful reference tool for policymakers, academics, and others interested in catch shares management in Hawai‘i and across the globe.

To suggest edits or additions to the database, please email lynham@hawaii.edu.

Working PaperDATA FILE (XLSX)


Behind-the-counter, but Over-the-border? The Assessment of the Geographical Spillover Effect of Increased Access to Emergency Contraception

Washington was the first state to ease the prescription requirements making emergency contraception (EC) available behind-the-counter at pharmacies to women of any age in 1998. I hypothesize that the increased availability of EC affects fertility rates beyond the borders of the state that allows it. In contrast to the literature, I show that increased access to EC is associated with a statistically significant albeit economically small decrease in abortion rates in Washington counties where women had access to no-prescription EC pharmacies. Yet, there is no effect on pregnancy rates. These results are robust in a number of specifications. Finally, I find some evidence in support of the spillover effects in Idaho, but not Oregon. However, after accounting for changes in the availability of abortion services, the decrease in fertility rates in “treated” Idaho counties is rather small and models lack sufficient power to detect it.

WORKING PAPER


Investigating the Effects of Furloughing Public School Teachers on Juvenile Crime in Hawaii

 Due to the large social costs of juvenile crime, policymakers have long been concerned about its causes. In the 2009-10 school year, the State of Hawaii responded to fiscal strains by furloughing all school teachers employed by the Department of Education and canceling class for seventeen instructional days. We examine the effects of this unusually short school year to draw conclusions about the relationship between time in school and juvenile arrests on Oahu. We calculate marginal effects from a negative binomial model and find that time off from school is associated with significantly fewer juvenile assault and drug-related arrests, although there are no changes in other types of crimes, such as burglaries. During the shortened school year, we calculate that there were twenty fewer assault arrests and fourteen fewer drug-related arrests of juveniles on Oahu. The declines in arrests for assaults were the most pronounced in poorer regions of the island whereas the declines in drug-related arrests were higher in relatively more prosperous regions.

WORKING PAPER


Economic Impacts of Inter-Island Energy in Hawaii

This study assesses the economic and greenhouse gas emissions impacts of a proposed 400MW wind farm in Hawaii. Due to its island setting, this project is a hybrid between an onshore and offshore wind development. The turbines are planned for the island(s) of Lanai and, potentially, Molokai. The project includes building an undersea cable to bring the power to the population center of Oahu. It is motivated by 1) Hawaii’s high electricity rates, which are nearly three times the national average, and 2) its Renewable Portfolio Standard mandating that 40% of electricity sales be met through renewable sources by the year 2030.

We use an economy-wide computable general equilibrium model of Hawaii’s economy coupled with a detailed dynamic optimization model for the electric sector. We find that the 400MW wind project competes with imported biofuel as a least-cost means of meeting the RPS mandate. As such, the wind project serves as a “hedge” against potentially rising and volatile fuel prices, including biofuel. Though its net positive macroeconomic impacts are small, the estimated reduction by 9 million metric tons of CO2 emissions makes the project a cost-effective approach to GHG reduction. Moreover, variability in imported fuel costs are found to be a much more dominant factor in determining cost-effectiveness than potential cost overruns in the wind project’s construction

WORKING PAPER


Common correlated effects and international risk sharing

Existing studies of risk pooling among groups of countries are predicated upon the highly restrictive assumption that all countries have symmetric responses to aggregate shocks. We show that the conventional risk sharing test fails to isolate idiosyncratic fluctuations within countries and produces spurious results. To avoid these problems, we propose an alternative form of the risk sharing test that is robust to heterogeneous country characteristics. In our empirical example, we provide estimates using the proposed approach for various groupings of 158 countries. 

WORKING PAPER


Estimating Demand Elasticities in Non-Stationary Panels: The Case of Hawai‘i Tourism

It is natural to turn to the richness of panel data to improve the precision of estimated tourism demand elasticities. However, the likely presence of common shocks shared across the underlying macroeconomic variables and across regions in the panel has so far been neglected in the tourism literature. We deal with the e ffects of cross-sectional dependence by applying Pesaran’s (2006) common correlated e ffects estimator, which is consistent under a wide range of conditions and is relatively simple to implement. We study the extent to which tourist arrivals from the US Mainland to Hawaii are driven by fundamentals such as real personal income and travel costs, and we demonstrate that ignoring cross-sectional dependence leads to spurious results. 

Published Version: Fuleky, P., Q. Zhao , C. Bonham. 2013. Estimating demand elasticities in non-stationary panels: The case of Hawaii tourism. Annals of Tourism Research. In Press.

WORKING PAPER


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