Brian P Vander Naald
Assistant Professor of Economics
My primary areas of research are Environmental Economics and Resource Economics. In my latest research projects I employ both revealed and stated preference methods to identify demands for some under-studied non-market goods. In one project, I identify a segment of the population with a positive WTP (willingness to pay) premium for other species’ well-being. Well-being considerations may be particularly important to the task of valuing non-fatal harm to wildlife in the wake of an environmental disaster. I argue that the other-species well-being component of WTP should be calculated net of any “outrage” component associated with the cause of the harm. This net WTP is likely to be correlated with the premium that people are willing to pay for chicken products from birds for which the quality of life has been enhanced by improved animal welfare measures. This paper uses a conjoint choice stated preference survey to reveal the nature of systematic heterogeneity in preferences for “humanely raised” versus “conventionally raised” chicken. I also use latent class analysis to distinguish between two classes of people – those who are willing to pay a premium for humanely raised chicken, and those who are not. (Vander Naald & Cameron, 2011).
In another project, I examine the demand for improved services and improved stewardship at state parks. Proposition 21 on California’s 2010 ballot concerned an $18 annual surcharge on vehicles to support state parks. Owners of vehicles registered in California would then be excused from paying park user fees. Prop 21 failed, implying 25% of these parks risk closure. Voting patterns at the Census tract level depend on gross price (the average per-household number of vehicles), incomes, age profiles, political ideology, environmental preferences, the availability of local substitutes, and park salience. We simulate counterfactual scenarios under which Prop 21 might have passed and use county-level hold-out samples to illustrate the predictive ability of our model. (Vander Naald & Cameron, R&R at Land Economics).
Finally, I examine the effects of the Clean Air Act on an industry comprised of small businesses. In compliance with the Clean Air Act, the state of California has implemented a phase down of the chemical perchloroethylene (PCE), which is the most widely used technology in dry-cleaning operations. PCE has been shown to be carcinogenic. We examine the determinants of dry cleaners’ decisions to exit the industry or continue business as usual, as well as if the regulations were effective in reducing ambient concentrations of PCE. While we do not find evidence that the regulations adversely affected dry cleaners, it does appear that the regulation reduced the ambient concentration of PCE in the atmosphere.
I look forward to bringing my enthusiasm for economics into the classroom and into undergraduate research. When not at the university, I enjoy hanging out with my wife, Anne, as well as running, biking, swimming, hiking, and most any outdoor activity.