Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Study finds Wilderness has negative economic impact on local areas

Some Wilderness can have positive economic impacts but our findings indicate that this is not the general rule. We find that when controlling for other types of federally held land and additional factors impacting economic conditions, federally designated Wilderness negatively impacts local economic conditions. Specifically, we find a significant negative relationship between the presence of Wilderness and county total payroll, county tax receipts, and county average household income. To provide better evidence of economic impacts, we use longitudinal statistical analysis over every county in the United States dating back to 1995. The panels each contain measurements of economic conditions taken every five years.5 We selected three uniformly applicable variables as proxies for county economic conditions: average household income, total payroll, and total tax receipts. Average household income and total tax receipts are gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Total payroll figures are gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics...more

The study concluded:

The argument often stated by the environmental community that Wilderness is good for local economies is simply not supported by the data. When comparing Wilderness and Non-Wilderness Counties, Wilderness Counties are at an economic disadvantage to their Non-Wilderness counterparts. Accordingly, if the test for whether or not to designate Wilderness is economic, Wilderness fails. But economics did not underlie the Wilderness Act or any of the Wilderness Areas established since the Act was passed. Wilderness is established for emotional, ecological, and cultural purposes. Our results show that those purposes are accomplished at a cost to local economies.

The full study from Environmental Trends can be downloaded here.

No comments: