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Natural vs. financial insurance in the management of public-good ecosystems

  • Quaas, Martin F.
  • Baumgärtner, Stefan

In the face of uncertainty, ecosystems can provide natural insurance to risk averse users of ecosystem services. We employ a conceptual ecological-economic model in which ecosystem management has a private insurance value and, through ecosystem processes at higher hierarchical levels, generates a positive externality on other ecosystem users. We analyze the allocation of (endogenous) risk and ecosystem quality by risk averse ecosystem managers who have access to financial insurance, and study the implications for individually and socially optimal ecosystem management, and policy design. We show that while an improved access to financial insurance leads to lower ecosystem quality, the effect on the extent of the public-good problem and on welfare is determined by ecosystem properties. We derive conditions on ecosystem functioning under which, if financial insurance becomes more accessible, (i) the extent of optimal regulation increases or decreases; and (ii) welfare, in the absence of environmental regulation, increases or decreases.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 65 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 397-406

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:65:y:2008:i:2:p:397-406
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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  1. Eppink, Florian V. & Withagen, Cees A., 2009. "Spatial patterns of biodiversity conservation in a multiregional general equilibrium model," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 75-88, May.
  2. Martin F. Quaas & Stefan Baumgärtner, 2006. "The Private and Public Insurance Value of Conservative Biodiversity Management," Working Paper Series in Economics 33, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  3. Skees, Jerry & Varangis, Panos & Larson, Donald & Siegel, Paul, 2002. "Can financial markets be tapped to help poor people cope with weather risks ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2812, The World Bank.
  4. Ehrlich, Isaac & Becker, Gary S, 1972. "Market Insurance, Self-Insurance, and Self-Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(4), pages 623-48, July-Aug..
  5. Edward B. Barbier & Michael Rauscher, 2007. "Biodiversity and Geography," CESifo Working Paper Series 2022, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Sandler, Todd & Sternbenz, Frederic P., 1990. "Harvest uncertainty and the tragedy of the commons," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 155-167, March.
  7. Mario Miranda & Dmitry V. Vedenov, 2001. "Innovations in Agricultural and Natural Disaster Insurance," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(3), pages 650-655.
  8. Shogren, Jason F. & Crocker, Thomas D., 1999. "Risk and Its Consequences," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 44-51, January.
  9. Olivier Mahul, 2001. "Optimal Insurance Against Climatic Experience," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(3), pages 593-604.
  10. JunJie Wu, 1999. "Crop Insurance, Acreage Decisions, and Nonpoint-Source Pollution," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(2), pages 305-320.
  11. Yann Bramoullé & Nicolas Treich, 2009. "Can Uncertainty Alleviate the Commons Problem?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1042-1067, 09.
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