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Conservation Policies and Labor Markets: Unraveling the Effects of National Parks on Local Wages in Costa Rica

Listed author(s):
  • Robalino, Juan
  • Villalobos-Fiatt, Laura

Despite the global environmental benefits of increasing the amount of protected areas, how these conservation policies affect the well-being of nearby individuals is still under debate. Using household surveys with highly disaggregated geographic references, we explored how national parks affect local wages in Costa Rica and how these effects vary within different areas of a park and among different social groups. We found that a park’s effects on wages vary according to economic activity and proximity to the entrance of the park. Wages close to parks are higher only for people living near tourist entrances. Workers close to entrances are not only employed in higher-paid activities (nonagricultural activities) but also receive higher wages for these activities. Agricultural workers, however, are never better off close to parks (neither close to or far from the entrances). Also, workers close to parks but far away from tourist entrances earn similar or lower wages than comparable workers far away from parks. Our results are robust to different econometric approaches (OLS and matching techniques). The location of national park entrances and the possibility that agricultural workers can switch to higher-paid service activities near tourist entrances may be important tools for helping local workers take advantage of the economic benefits of protected areas.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-10-02-efd.

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Date of creation: 06 Feb 2010
Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-10-02-efd
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  1. Robalino, Juan A., 2007. "Land conservation policies and income distribution: who bears the burden of our environmental efforts?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(04), pages 521-533, August.
  2. David J. Lewis & Gary L. Hunt & DAndrew J. Plantinga, 2002. "Public Conservation Land and Employment Growth in the Northern Forest Region," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 78(2), pages 245-259.
  3. Johannes F. Schmieder & Till von Wachter, 2010. "Does Wage Persistence Matter for Employment Fluctuations? Evidence from Displaced Workers," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 1-21, July.
  4. Pfaff Alexander & Robalino Juan & Sanchez-Azofeifa G. Arturo & Andam Kwaw S & Ferraro Paul J, 2009. "Park Location Affects Forest Protection: Land Characteristics Cause Differences in Park Impacts across Costa Rica," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 1-26, July.
  5. John A. List & Michael Margolis & Daniel E. Osgood, 2006. "Is the Endangered Species Act Endangering Species?," NBER Working Papers 12777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Katrina Mullan & Andreas Kontoleon & Tim Swanson & Shiqiu Zhang, 2008. "An evaluation of the impact of the Natural Forest Protection Programme on Rural Household Livelihoods," Environmental Economy and Policy Research Working Papers 34.2008, University of Cambridge, Department of Land Economics, revised 2008.
  7. Sims, Katharine R.E., 2010. "Conservation and development: Evidence from Thai protected areas," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 94-114, September.
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