Job Market Paper

Managing mortality of multi-use megafauna

Enriquez, AJ and DC Finnoff

Status: Revised and resubmitted

Abstract:

Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, currently listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, are a prime example of a multi-use species in that they induce both benefits and damages to people. As the grizzly bear population has increased over time, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of grizzly bear-human conflicts and non-harvest human-caused grizzly bear mortalities. Federal protections prevent “active” management (i.e., direct population control). Instead, wildlife managers rely on “reactive” management (i.e., indirect population control through conflict management). To shed light on when a recovery program ought to transition to active management, a bioeconomic model is constructed and parameterized with available data. A representative wildlife agency decides whether or not to enact active management by taking into account how stock-dependent benefits and damages adjust along the recovery path. Given the assumptions in the base case, the grizzly bear population has surpassed the size at which protections ought to have been removed. When a program of active management is a contentious and negotiated settlement with little flexibility, as is the case for grizzly bears, the natural capital value of a live animal may well be negative for an interval of time, during which it is optimal for society to continue conserving the species by developing a buffer. The results are sensitive to the institutional specifics and to the magnitudes of key human and ecological parameters.

Yellowstone National Park, 2017

Working Papers

The pain of paying with other people's money
Enriquez, AJ, BT Gilbert, and LH Thunström

Status: Submitted

Abstract:

Spending decisions are at the heart of consumer research, and factors that impact spending have been studied for many decades. So far, research has focused on spending decisions based on own money. However, people often spend money earned by someone else (e.g., partners spend each other’s earned money, government officials spend tax payer money, employees spend employer money, people in need spend social benefits). We take a first step towards understanding how spending depends on who earned the money. We focus on the shortest social distance between consumer and earner - intra household spending - and survey 166 couples on how pain of paying from a fixed purchase is affected by who earned the money. Pain of paying regulates consumer spending; the higher the pain, the lower the spending. We find that people feel higher pain of paying when spending money earned by their partner, compared to when earned by self, suggesting they might be more frugal with money earned by others. Their pain of paying increases if they believe their partner will be unhappy with their purchases. Their ability to accurately predict the partner’s feelings about the purchase increases with partner similarity in spendthriftiness. 

Free riding toward personal protection: Relating parental cooperation behavior to vaccine hesitancy
Marchal, AJ, MD Ehmke, AJ Enriquez, and CA Camargo, Jr.

Status: In preparation for submission

Abstract:

Rural and exurban communities are especially vulnerable to healthcare system overloads and high rates of infection, but such communities have historically had low vaccination rates for diseases like the flu. We use a voluntary contribution mechanism game to analyze how cooperative behavior in parents from rural and exurban communities relates to their flu vaccination decisions for themselves and their children. We classify different types of players, including “free-riders,” “reciprocators,” and “contributors.” We find that free-riders and reciprocators are most likely to vaccinate, which is a departure from previous vaccine hesitancy literature. The experiment predated the current pandemic, so we use the most recent flu vaccination decision as an indicator for the inevitable COVID-19 vaccination decision. Policies that amplify free-riding and reciprocation may lead to higher vaccination rates, which would be critical for achieving herd immunity and mitigating the damaging effects of COVID-19.

Rare earth element resource evaluation of coal byproducts: A case study from the Powder River Basin, Wyoming.
Bagdonas, DA, AJ Enriquez, KA Coddington, DC Finnoff, JF McLaughlin, MD Bazilian, EH Phillips, and TL McCling.

Status: In preparation for submission

Abstract:

Forthcoming.

In-Progress Research

Valuing grizzly bear conservation and viewing in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Enriquez, AJ, SC Newbold, and DC Finnoff

Goals:

  • Use a combined stated preference and revealed preference nonmarket valuation survey to elicit people’s values for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

  • Estimate and compare locals’ and non-locals’ average willingness-to-pay for grizzly bear sightings and conservation, as well as their willingness-to-pay to reduce grizzly bear-human conflicts

  • Predict how hypothetical grizzly bear management policies could affect the aggregate demand for recreational trips to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (including trips to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks)

Completed Work:

  • Obtained Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval

  • Pretested the survey by running five focus group sessions and a one-on-one interview at the University of Wyoming

  • Secured funding for an expected sample size of roughly 2,500 respondents

  • Communicated with grizzly bear experts from three agencies

  • Finalized the experimental design using R

  • Created the survey in Qualtrics

  • Sent out a pre-pilot survey for feedback

Current Work:

  • Preparing to administer the survey in October of 2020

Preferences for wind energy in Wyoming

Enriquez, AJ and RW Godby

Goals:

  • Use an experimental survey to determine what drives Wyoming residents’ preferences for (or against) new wind energy developments

  • Elicit Wyoming residents’ attitudes about competing energy sources

Completed Work:

  • Obtained IRB approval

  • Ran focus group sessions: three at the University of Wyoming and one at the Eppson Center for Seniors in Laramie, Wyoming

  • Secured funding for an expected sample size of 800 respondents

  • Created the survey in Qualtrics

  • Sent out a pre-pilot survey for feedback

Current Work:

  • Preparing to administer the survey in October of 2020

Presentations

UW-CSU Graduate Student Symposium
April 2019, Laramie, Wyoming

Presenter: "Bioeconomic grizzly bear management"

International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade
July 2018, Seattle, Washington

Presenter: "From the shore or from the water? Enforcement of resource rights under discrete enforcement technologies"

Abstract: Poaching is a major problem under the Chilean system of territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs). Organizations of artisanal fishers that are granted spatial property rights through TURFs combat poaching by establishing their own enforcement. Although an organization must protect its benthic resources against poachers from both within the organization (“insiders”) and outside of the organization (“outsiders”), existing literature has shown that fishers are more concerned about enforcement against outsiders. Organizations know that their enforcement is imperfect - increasing enforcement increases the probability that poachers will be caught but does not guarantee that poachers will be caught. This probability depends on an “effectiveness of enforcement” parameter. With a high effectiveness of enforcement, an organization’s enforcement is more likely to lead to poacher capture. Using an optimal control framework, we analyze how a representative organization maximizes expected profit by choosing its levels of harvest and enforcement, over time. The organization incorporates the poacher’s best-response function, in which a poacher’s decision of how much to illegally harvest is influenced by the organization’s harvest and enforcement levels, the size of the stock, and exogenous parameters. In the case where the organization chooses positive levels of both harvest and enforcement, there are multiple equilibria in the steady state. One equilibrium is associated with a high level of stock while the other is associated with a low level. We show comparative dynamics on key parameters, including the effectiveness of enforcement.
Geological Society of America Annual Meeting
September 2016, Denver, Colorado

Presenter: "Economic feasibility of rare earth element extraction from Wyoming coal ash/char"

Abstract: The State of Wyoming is the largest producer of coal in the U.S. Uncertainty over the future of this resource has caused the state to recognize the importance of diversifying its mineral industry. Recent research shows a potential remedy: coal by-products, such as fly ash, can contain recoverable amounts of Rare Earth Elements (REEs). By producing REEs from fly ash, Wyoming can diversify and add to its revenue streams. There is global demand for REEs, as they are utilized in the production of a diverse array of modern goods and technology. Application of Net Present Value (NPV) analysis allows determination of the potential profitability of REE extraction from Wyoming coal-fired power station ash. The NPV analysis considers REE concentrations in six ash samples from two basins, the Powder River Basin and the Green River Basin. A challenge for NPV analysis of these samples is the lack of REE-from-coal-ash processing and refining cost estimates in the literature. To overcome this hurdle, the NPV analysis is structured to determine the maximum unit cost that a coal station can incur and still break even. For each station, this cost is calculated in two ways: as an input cost per pound of ash, and as an output cost per pound of Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO). In addition to the unit cost, the analysis also provides the potential revenue and maximum capital cost for each station. Subsequent sensitivity analysis then allows for comparison of the results under scenarios that range from low to high yield and low to high REE concentrations. With the assumptions made, five of the six coal stations have breakeven unit costs that exceed the value of 1.17 US$ per pound TREO, which is the mine-to-oxide operating cost reported by the hard-rock mine company Molycorp. Under these results, REE recovery from Wyoming coal by-products appears economically promising.

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