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Do natural disasters make sustainable growth impossible?

Do natural disasters make sustainable growth impossible?

Do natural disasters make sustainable growth impossible?

Do natural disasters make sustainable growth impossible?

Do natural disasters make sustainable growth impossible?

Economic Impact of the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority Tenant on the State of Hawaii in 2018

Economic Impact of the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority Tenant on the State of Hawaii in 2018

Hawaii Construction Forecast: Planned Projects Support Healthy Construction Outlook

Hawaii Construction Forecast: Planned Projects Support Healthy Construction Outlook

UHERO State Forecast Update: Already weak, Hawaii’s prospects look increasingly dicey


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Do natural disasters make sustainable growth impossible?

We consider the prospects for sustainable growth using expected utility models of optimal investment under threat from natural disasters. Adoption of a continuous time, stochastic Ramsey growth model over an infinite time horizon permits the analysis of sustainability under uncertainty regarding adverse events, including both one-time and recurrent disasters. As appropriate to small economies, we consider adaptation to the risk of disaster. Natural disasters reduce capital stocks and disrupt the optimal consumption and felicity paths. While the time path of inter-temporal welfare might consequently shift downward, the path may still be non-decreasing over time, even without adding strong or weak sustainability constraints. Prudent disaster preparedness includes precautionary investment in productive capital, programs of adaptation to disaster risk, and avoiding distortionary policies undermining the prospects of optimality and sustainability.

Working Paper


Wellbeing and Housing Report Supplement

The goal of this report is to summarize how neighborhood housing price appreciation can impact quality of life beyond individual level impacts (see Love and Garboden 2019). We first discuss how housing market indicators, particularly appreciation, can be measured and summarize different patterns across Hawaii. In answer to our our main question, we find few statistically significant associations between these measures and well-being. Data limitations, however, restrict our ability to assert a null effect. We conclude with next steps for research.

Working Paper


Drivers of well-being in Hawaii: Quantifying individual and community impacts

In Gallup’s annual well-being index, Hawaii occupied the #1 spot among US states for six out of the past 10 years (slipping to #3 in the latest 2017 survey) despite having one of the nation’s highest costs of living. Thus, Hawaii presents a unique environment to study happiness and well-being. This report presents our analysis of which individual and community factors are most associated with well-being.

Working Paper


Cabotage Sabotage? The Curious Case of the Jones Act

This paper examines the economic implications of the Jones Act, which is a 1920 U.S. cabotage law that restricts domestic waterborne shipments to American vessels. The rapid rise of the Asian shipbuilding industry over the last century has contributed to the closure of most American shipyards and to the decline in American built ships. Thus, the Jones Act requirements have become more onerous over time. The results show that the decline in Jones-Act-eligible vessels, instrumented for using shipbuilding in another high-income country, has reduced domestic waterborne shipments into U.S. states relative to other modes of transport and relative to waterborne imports. These findings are stronger in coastal states and for commodities that are typically transported via water. Furthermore, there is evidence that this reduction in domestic trade, due to the Jones Act, has increased consumer prices. These findings support common, but to date unverified, claims that the Jones Act impedes domestic trade and drives up prices.

Working Paper


Combinatorial Optimization for Urban Planning: Strategic Demolition of Abandoned Houses in Baltimore, MD

In 2017, Baltimore City was awarded $75 million dollars earmarked for the targeted demolition of a portion of its 16,000 vacant and abandoned buildings. Selecting an optimal set of demolition targets is difficult given that the cost per demolition is not independent of the overall demolition pattern; like many older cities, Baltimore’s abandoned housing includes a large number of attached rowhouses, which require the construction of retaining walls when a demolished home abuts a non-demolished home. In this paper, we present a method by which planners can use integer linear programming to identify optimal demolition targets for a number of potential objectives. The simplest objective, demolishing the maximum number of houses for a specific budget, is compared to more complex functions that attempt to proxy improved quality of life resulting from the demolitions. The results of different objective functions are then assessed in terms of equity and efficiency using the spatial distribution of proposed targets as a point of comparison.

Working Paper


Dynamic Factor Models

Dynamic factor models are parsimonious representations of relationships among time series variables. With the surge in data availability, they have proven to be indispensable in macroeconomic forecasting. This chapter surveys the evolution of these models from their pre-big-data origins to the large-scale models of recent years. We review the associated estimation theory, forecasting approaches, and several extensions of the basic framework.

Working Paper


Sources and Types of Big Data for Macroeconomic Forecasting

This chapter considers the types of Big Data that have proven useful for macroeconomic forecasting. It first presents the various definitions of Big Data, proposing one we believe is most useful for forecasting. The literature on both the opportunities and challenges of Big Data are presented. It then proposes a taxonomy of the types of Big Data: 1) Financial Market Data; 2) E-Commerce and Credit Cards; 3) Mobile Phones; 4) Search; 5) Social Media Data; 6) Textual Data; 7) Sensors, and The Internet of Things; 8) Transportation Data; 9) Other Administrative Data. Noteworthy studies are described throughout.

Working Paper


The Impact of Public Health Insurance on Medical Utilization in a Vulnerable Population: Evidence from COFA Migrants

In March of 2015, the State of Hawaii stopped covering the vast majority of migrants from countries belonging to the Compact of Free Association (COFA) in the state Medicaid program. As a result COFA migrants were required to obtain private insurance in health insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act. Using statewide administrative hospital discharge data, we show that Medicaid-funded hospitalizations and emergency room visits declined in this population by 69% and 42% after the expiration of Medicaid eligibility. Utilization funded by private insurance did increase but not enough to offset the declines in publicly-funded utilization. This resulted in a net decrease in utilization. In addition, we show that uninsured ER visits increased as a consequence of the expiration of Medicaid benefits. Paradoxically, we also find a substantial increase in Medicaid-funded ER visits by infants after the expiration of benefits which is consistent with a substitution of ER visits for ambulatory care for the very young.

Working Paper


The Role of Electricity prices in Structural Transformation: Evidence from the Philippines

The Philippines provides an extreme example of Rodrik’s observation that late developing countries experience deindustrialization at lower levels of per capita income than more advanced economies. Previous studies point to the role of protectionist policies, financial crises, and currency overvaluation as explanations for the shrinking share of the industry sector. We complement this literature by examining the role of electricity prices in the trajectory of industry share. We make use of data at the country level for 33 countries over the period 1980-2014 and at the Philippine regional level for 16 regions over the period 1990-2014. We find that higher electricity prices tend to amplify deindustrialization, causing industry share to turn downward at a lower peak and a lower per capita income, and to decline more steeply than otherwise. In a two- country comparison, we find that power-intensive manufacturing subsectors have expanded more rapidly in Indonesia, where electricity prices have been low, whereas Philippine manufacturing has shifted toward less power intensive and more labor- intensive subsectors in the face of high electricity prices.

Working Paper


Revenue Decoupling for Electric Utilities: Impacts on Prices and Welfare

Under traditional (cost-of-service) electric utility regulation, regulated utilities may not recover their fixed costs when their sales are lower than expected. Revenue decoupling (RD) is a mechanism that allows price adjustments so that the regulated utility recovers its required revenue. This paper investigates the welfare and distributional impacts of RD. Theoretically, we find that the excess burden of subsidies for distributed generation is larger with RD than without. Contrary to how RD is specified on dockets in many states, electricity prices appear to demonstrate downward rigidity, while statistically significant upward adjustments on average are observed across utilities that experienced decoupling. We also find empirically that RD has generated negative welfare effects in most states even if we consider the social marginal costs of electricity generation given different energy mix across regional markets.

Working Paper


Mandatory Food Waste Recycling Ordinance for Large Food Establishments in Honolulu, Hawaii

A recent study by two University of Hawaii at Manoa researchers estimates that more than 26% of the available food supply in Hawaii is discarded each year. Food waste occurs at all stages of the food supply chain-- after food is harvested, during packaging, shipping and storage, and finally by consumers. Since most of the food consumed in Hawaii is imported, most of the food waste in Hawaii occurs at the consumer level.

Working Paper


Integrating Renewable Energy with Time Varying Pricing

With increasing adoption of intermittent sources of renewable energy, effective integration is paramount to fully realizing societal benefits. This study asks the question, how valuable is residential real-time pricing (RTP) in comparison to time-of-use (TOU) rates to absorb increasing sources of intermittent renewable energy? We couple a detailed power sector model with a residential electricity demand response model to estimate the system and consumer benefits of these two time-varying pricing mechanisms, including greenhouse gas emissions.

Working Paper


Well-Being Assessment in Hawaii Creating community-level composite indices in paradise

The purpose of this report is to provide the necessary foundation for the construction of a comparative well-being index for communities in Hawaii. We begin by comparing the composite index and dashboard approaches to describing well-being. We provide guidance on the selection of indicators, their normalization, the weighting of indicators to form a composite index, and the comparison of indices and indicator values across regions. Existing indices are compared to provide context. Available data sources are listed and opportunities to augment current data collection are identified. Specific recommendations are provided regarding the well-being model, data sources, indicator selection, interactive visualization, and communication.

Working Paper


Not All Regions Are Alike: Evaluating the Effect of Oil Price Shocks on Local and Aggregate Economies

Using a sample of 48 contiguous U.S. states for the period 1973-2013, we study how oil price shocks influence state-level economic growth. The analysis incorporates (1) a structural decomposition of the supply and demand factors that drive the real price of crude oil; (2) heterogeneity of states in terms of their production and consumption of oil and natural gas; and (3) economic spillovers across neighboring states. Oil price effects vary across states, depending on the underlying source of the price shock and a state's average production of oil relative to its average consumption. Oil-exporting states are more vulnerable to unanticipated changes in oil prices, and the direct effect of oil price shocks can magnify or temper effects on neighboring states. Aggregated predictions from the state-level model also differ modestly from stand-alone aggregate model (Kilian, 2009). The aggregated state-level model implies that the recent (2005-2016) decline in U.S. dependence on foreign oil reduced aggregate sensitivity to exogenous supply shocks by more than a third.

Working Paper


Who are Driving Electric Vehicles? An analysis of factors that affect EV adoption in Hawaii

This study uses data on EV registrations by zipcode in Hawaii to analyze a variety of demographic and transportation factors that might affect EV adoption. After controlling for population and gasoline prices, zip codes with higher income and educational attainment are associated with higher levels of EV adoption. Longer commute times also influence EV adoption – which is somewhat surprising given the relatively limited travel distances of an island geography. This suggests that there may be strong risk-aversion associated with EV range anxiety as well as prompts further study of the effect of trip-chaining on EV purchase decisions.

Working Paper


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