Economics ETDs

Publication Date



This work applies revealed and stated preference methods for valuing changes in the provision of environmental and health care goods. It estimates non-market benefits to society from protecting forest lands from commercial activities and elicits individuals preference (e.g., willingness to pay) for expanding health care coverage to the uninsured. Health care provision policies can save lives but also increase costs, and may work best when done in combination with behavioral and health interventions that promote healthy life styles such as protecting public forest lands. Chapters 2 and 3 apply the hedonic pricing empirical framework to investigate whether protecting public forest lands generate economic values that capitalize in the labor and housing market. Chapter 2 investigates the role of natural amenities, in the form of Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs), in the Southwest United States (US). IRAs are defined as Public Forest or Grasslands exceeding 5,000 acres that are undeveloped areas with little or no timber harvest and no human construction (USDA 2001a). In light of the current legal debate over whether to open IRAs to commercial activities or to maintain them in their pristine status, a better understanding is needed about the values that these lands in particular may have within a regional economic context, as observed in housing and labor markets. Based on this motivation, these chapters distinguish between congressionally-protected lands also called wilderness areas, IRAs, and the all inclusive open space definition of a public land (e.g., public forest areas in the National Forest System) to estimate the implicit values that individuals have for these lands (e.g., off-site benefits). After accounting for the presence of spatial dependence (e.g., spatial lag and spatial error models) these chapters show significant off-site benefits for living in proximity or in areas with high percentage of IRAs. Scale and zoning effects (e.g., ecological fallacy, Doll et al. 2004) due to the aggregation of data into predefined administrative boundaries (such as Census tracts) are addressed in chapter 3 by using micro-data with a sample of matched wage-earner housing units. Chapter 4 uses survey-based data to address changes the in provision of a different good with public attributes: expanding health care coverage to the uninsured in New Mexico. One year after Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law public support for such a reform is still significantly divided (42% in favor and 46% against, The Kaiser Family Foundation, 2011). Given the desire to provide universal health coverage but the reluctance to pay higher taxes at the national level, would a state-based reform receive a majority support from New Mexicans? While New Mexican may widely express support for health care reform, they may be collectively and politically unwilling to finance expansion to all the uninsured, with either higher taxes or increased premiums. As such, the results also suggest that an incremental approach, in the search for majority support (and presumably more political support), might be to expand health care coverage to specific segments of the population such as individuals with chronic conditions.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Economics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Berrens, Robert

Second Committee Member

Thacher, Jennifer

Third Committee Member

Fontenla, Matias

Fourth Committee Member

Sanchez, Gabriel

Project Sponsors

This research was supported under a Joint Venture Agreement (06-JV-099) between U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Services, Rocky Mountain Research Station (Flagstaff, AZ) and the Department of Economics, University of New Mexico(Albuquerque, NM). Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico.'




Environmental Health Economics

Document Type


Included in

Economics Commons