Information and Spillovers from Targeting Policy in Peru's Anchoveta Fishery

Gabriel Englander. Job market paper. Link.

This paper establishes that regulations aimed at mitigating common-pool extraction externalities in the world’s largest fishery backfire substantially and exacerbate inefficiencies. The most important biological externality in Peru’s anchoveta fishery is the harvesting of juvenile anchoveta. To reduce juvenile catch, the regulator temporarily closes areas where the share of juvenile catch is high. Using administrative microdata from hundreds of thousands of vessel-level fishing operations, I estimate substantial temporal and spatial spillovers from closures that undermine the policy’s objective and lead to a net increase in juvenile catch of 50%. I explain this result using both theory and data as being due to the fact that closure announcements implicitly provide valuable information regarding the locations of schools of anchoveta. Fishermen exploit this information, catching more juveniles before closures begin, just outside closures during closure periods, and after closures end.

Property rights and the protection of global marine resources

Gabriel Englander. Nature Sustainability, 2(10), 981–987 (2019). Link.

Managing global marine resources by assigning property rights could align economic and conservation incentives, but only if unauthorized resource use is deterred. Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) are country-level property rights to marine resources, covering approximately 39% of the ocean’s surface and accounting for more than 95% of global marine fish catch. However, EEZs might not be respected by unauthorized resource users because the cost of monitoring and enforcing such large areas may be prohibitive. Here we provide the first evidence that EEZs are in fact respected by unauthorized resource users. Using global, high-resolution fishing effort datasets and the ecologically arbitrary boundaries between EEZs and the high seas, we find that unauthorized foreign fishing is 81% lower just inside EEZs compared to just outside EEZs. Consistent with the high cost of enforcing EEZ boundaries, this deterrence effect is concentrated in EEZs that are most valuable near their boundaries. Our results suggest property rights institutions can enable effective governance of global marine resource use.

Supplementary Information | Press Release | Scott Barrett commentary | Blog | Replication files

Armed conflict increases elephant poaching

Gabriel Englander. Working paper. Link

Poaching is the greatest threat to the survival of elephants and other commercially valuable species. There are many hypothesized
drivers of wildlife poaching, but few empirical estimates of their causal effects on poaching levels. In this paper, I provide the first
causal estimates of a spatially-varying driver of wildlife poaching. Using elephant poaching and armed conflict data spanning 13 years
and 77 sites in 39 countries across Africa and Asia, I find that the onset of a new conflict near elephant populations significantly increases contemporaneous elephant poaching levels by 12-22%. I leverage a variety of econometric methods to show that these estimates are plausibly causal and robust to alternative specifications and different measures of conflict and poaching. I estimate that conflict accounts for the illegal killing of 80,000 elephants between 2002 and 2014. To protect elephants, governments and NGOs should increase support to affected areas when conflicts begin.

Recycling Policies, Behavior and Convenience: Survey Evidence from the CalRecycle Program

with Peter Berck, Marshall Blundell, Samantha Gold, Shelley He, Janet Horsager, Scott Kaplan, Molly Sears, Andrew Stevens, Carly Trachtman, Rebecca Taylor, and Sofia B. Villas-Boas. Forthcoming in Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy. Available upon request.

AB2020 established a deposit-refund system in California, where consumers are reimbursed the California Redemption Value (CRV) upon recycling eligible containers at a recycling center. We study recycling under this policy, focusing on consumer convenience, reported recycling and diversion behavior, and responses to changes in the CRV amount. We find that consumers prefer nearby centers with flexible operating hours and short waiting times. While the CRV induces recycling, an increase in CRV would not lead to major recycling increases, given the limited number of containers entering trash streams. Finally, most diverted containers are taken from trash streams, not curbside recycling bins.

Carbon allowances and the demand for offsets: a comprehensive assessment of imperfect substitutes

with Noah C. DormadyJournal of Public Policy, 36(1), 139-167 (2016). Link

The efficient use of market-based policy instruments is an area of increasing importance as scholars and policymakers work to balance effective climate policy with economic growth. Carbon allowances and carbon offsets, despite being statutorily substitutable, behave in practice like imperfect substitutes. This paper provides a synthesis of extant work, market data and the regulatory frameworks of the world’s major carbon markets, and provides a comprehensive assessment of the drivers of demand for carbon offsets. It also provides a detailed assessment of the process through which international carbon offsets are produced, the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism. Demand for carbon offsets is heavily influenced by key programme design parameters that are specific to carbon market design and its implementation. These design parameters heavily influence the degree to which transaction costs, regulatory uncertainty and risk factor into the decisions of firms operating within the carbon trading programme. This paper also identifies key extra-statutory drivers that are outside of the policymaker’s control, which should be considered in both the policy design and the implementation process. This paper provides an instructive set of guiding criteria for policymakers and scholars for the design of future market-based environmental policy.