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Essays in Labor, Health, and Environmental Economics.

By Ann E. Ferris


The first essay examines the labor demand response of the Pacific Northwest timber industry to an environmental regulation that drastically reduced timber harvest in the region in the 1990s: protecting the northern spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act. I construct county-level measures of the local intensity of owl protection, using data on 7 million acres of federal forestland set aside as critical habitat. Difference-in-differences estimates indicate a 26 percent decline in timber employment from 1990 to 2000, approximately 17,600 timber jobs, and a 2 percent decline in timber earnings per worker. Owl-protected areas vary in size; the marginal effect of an additional protected acre on timber employment is a decline of 0.09 percent. I find mixed evidence of spillover effects. Using the Canadian province of British Columbia, a regional comparison finds a smaller loss of timber employment in the Pacific Northwest: 7,700 jobs. Taken together, these results indicate that Northern Spotted Owl protection plausibly led to a small loss of timber earnings per worker and employment. The second essay describes how parents' health is related to children's human capital accumulation and educational attainment. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we find evidence that children with unhealthy parents attain less education than similar children with healthy parents. Controlling for family assets and other background characteristics, daughters are significantly less likely to complete as many years of education as sons if their mother experiences a decline in health. The third essay describes the long-term association of poor parental health on children's labor force outcomes in adulthood. To describe this long-term association empirically we use two representative, longitudinal studies with detailed information on parents' health and children's labor force status: the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the Health and Retirement Study. We show that adults, ages 18 to 29, whose parents reported being in poor health were less likely to be working ten years later, compared to similar young adults with healthier parents

Topics: Labor Economics, Environmental Policy, Northern Spotted Owl, Health Economics
OAI identifier: oai:deepblue.lib.umich.edu:2027.42/64750
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