In Progress:

  • The Effectiveness of Air Quality Warnings and Temporary Driving Bans: Evidence from Air Pollution and Urban Transit Flows in Santiago (dissertation chapter)

Driving restrictions are common strategies to curb mobile source emissions in many cities of the world. In this study, I use high frequency data on air pollution and urban transit flows to evaluate the effectiveness of temporary license plate-based driving bans, triggered with 24-hour air quality warnings, in curbing local air pollution in Santiago, Chile. Taking advantage of the discontinuities in the air quality index used to announce these warnings, I estimate the effect of these incidents, and their driving bans, in reducing ambient concentrations of major pollutants from car emissions. As effective driving bans lessen mobile source pollution by getting cars off the roads and pushing drivers towards cleaner forms of transportation, I also evaluate this policy using data on vehicle trips, and on the use of Santiago’s mass-transit systems. For identification, I employ a fuzzy regression discontinuity design that uses the thresholds in Santiago’s air quality index as instruments for the episodes’ announcement. Results show that on average, temporary driving restrictions reduce car traffic by 4-6% during peak hours, and around 7-10% during off-peak hours on days with air quality warnings. This is consistent with reductions in PM, CO, and NOXconcentrations mostly during peak hours. Evidence from alternative transportation modes indicates that drivers substitute primarily towards the metro, primarily during hours at which the system is not running at full capacity. Days with exacerbated levels of air pollution, however, show lower increases in mass-transit system ridership, which suggest an avoidance behavior on affected drivers who stay at home to avoid outdoor exposure to pollution. Results in this study provide suggestive evidence that air quality warnings about the risks of outdoor exposure to pollution can help securing the effectiveness of temporary driving restrictions.

  • Is Mining an Environmental Disamenity? Evidence from Rental Prices in a Developing Country (dissertation chapter)

Resource extractive industries are often challenged by nearby communities due to the environmental impacts of the activity. If proximity to mining represents a disamenity to households, the opening of new mines should lead to a decrease in housing prices. Due to the high pollution potential of this activity, mine openings could also affect households’ willingness to pay (WTP) for environmental quality improvements. This study addresses whether the high-pollution potential of mining outweighs its economic benefits, as capitalized into rental prices, using Chile as a case study. Repeated cross-sectional data on resource extraction site openings is combined with households’ information for over 20,000 rental housing units to estimate a hedonic price equation on rental prices. The identification strategy relies on a spatial difference-in-difference (DID) design, where houses in cities hosting the site openings are compared with houses in cities without mining, before and after the new sitings. A spatial DID nearest-neighborhood matching estimator strengths this strategy. Results show that mining represents an environmental disamenity to households. Renters who live near mining get compensated with rental prices that are around 14-25% lower. This represents an average willingness to pay of USD52-94 a month to avoid proximity to the concentration of mines. Further distinction among types of residents suggest that this market capitalization is higher among long-term residents, which constitutes evidence of a taste-based sorting of households across space.

  • The U.S. Coal-To-Gas Plant Conversion Process: Evidence from Housing Market Capitalizations (dissertation chapter; with Scott Loveridge)

Recent fuel-switching power plant projects in the United States promise several environmental gains at both the global and the local level. Using records on more than 1,000,000 property transactions, I elicit local property value impacts from the coal-to-natural gas switching experienced by properties located near the fuel-switching power plants. I adopt a spatial difference-in-difference approach using property transactions near, and far, from switched plants, and comparable coal-fired power plants. A triple difference estimator strengthens these estimations. Results indicate that property values increase in the immediate vicinity of the fuel-switching plants. Most of these impacts occur immediately after the shutdown of a coal-fired power generation unit, revealing the disamenity effect of coal-fired power plants.

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CU Environmental and Resource Economics Workshop. Colorado, 2017 – Photo Credits: Sarah Jacobson