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Products: UHERO Working Papers

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Optimal Prevention and Control of Invasive Species: The Case of the Brown Treesnake

This dissertation examines the optimal management of a nuisance species that threatens but is not thought to be prevalent in an ecosystem. The three central chapters focus on integrated prevention and control of the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) in Hawaii.


Learning-by-catching: Uncertain invasive-species populations and the value of information

This paper develops a model of invasive species control when the species’ population size is unknown. In the face of an uncertain population size, a resource manager’s species-control efforts provide two potential benefits: (1) a direct benefit of possibly reducing the population of invasive species, and (2) an indirect benefit of information acquisition (due to learning about the population size, which reduces uncertainty). We provide a methodology that takes into account both of these benefits, and show how optimal management decisions are altered in the presence of the indirect benefit of learning. We then apply this methodology to the case of controlling the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) on the island of Saipan. We find that the indirect benefit—the value of information to reduce uncertainty—is likely to be quite large.

Published: D'Evelyn, S. T., Tarui, N., Burnett, K. and Roumasset, J. A., 2008. Learning-by-catching: Uncertain invasive-species populations and the value of information.  Journal of Envrionmental Management, 89, 284-292.

working paper version

Models of Spatial and Intertemporal Invasive Species Management

Prepared for the NCEE Valuation for Environmental Policy: Ecological Benefits Conference April 23-24, 2007.

uhero project report

Collusive Duopoly: The Economic Effects of Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines’ Agreement to Reduce Capacity

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 (9/11), Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA). Section 116, Air Transportation Arrangements in Certain States, provided a foundation for Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines to obtain temporary antitrust immunity for their agreement to coordinate a reduction in passenger seat capacity on routes between Hawaii’s five major interisland airports. While the provision did not apply only to Hawaii, it applied only to intrastate flights, and only Hawaiian and Aloha Airlines, among U.S. airlines, took advantage of this statute to jointly reduce passenger capacity in the wake of sharply declining demand for air travel after 9/11. The limited antitrust exemption provides a rare opportunity to examine the economic effects of collusively reducing capacity in a duopolistic market. We present an economic analysis of the agreement, and advance the testable hypothesis that capacity reduction will result in fare increases. We also demonstrate empirically that reductions in passenger capacity under the agreement did contribute to sharply rising airfares in Hawaii’s interisland air travel market. Our analysis suggests that explicit agreement is more effective in reducing competition than tacit collusion in a tight oligopoly. Moreover, our empirical findings indicate that, following the expiration of the agreement, tacit collusion may have been sufficient to enable the parties to continue their supra-competitive pricing. We also document the entry of a third interisland carrier following the increase in interisland fares, and the price war that followed. Finally, our empirical results provide an economic foundation for the policy implications that we advance in our concluding section.


Published: “Collusive Duopoly: The Effects of the Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines” Agreement to Reduce Capacity,” with James Mak and Roger Blair, Antitrust Law Journal, Vol. 74, No. 2, 2007, 409-38.



The Economic Value of Watershed Conservation

Watershed conservation creates benefits within and beyond the management area of interest. Direct benefits are those realized in the watershed itself, such as improved water quality and quantity, and biodiversity protection. Additionally, the health of a watershed has profound implications on near-shore resources below its reaches, including beaches and coral reefs. This chapter reviews the major benefits of watershed conservation and discusses the economic value of these activities.

working paper

Economic lessons from control efforts for an invasive species: Miconia calvescens in Hawaii

Once established, invasive species can rapidly and irreversibly alter ecosystems and degrade the value of ecosystem services. Optimal control of an unwanted species solves for a trajectory of removals that minimizes the present value of removal costs and residual damages from the remaining population. The shrubby tree, Miconia calvescens, is used to illustrate dynamic policy options for a forest invader. Potential damages to Hawaii’s forest ecosystems are related to decreased aquifer recharge, biodiversity, and other ecosystem values. We find that population reduction is the optimal management policy for the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii. On the island of Kauai, where tree density is lower and search costs higher, optimal policy calls for deferring removal expenditures until the steady state population is reached.

Published: Burnett, K. M., Kaiser, B. A., and Roumasset, J. A., 2007.  Economic lessons from control efforts for an invasive species: Miconia calvescens in Hawaii. Journal of Forest Economics, 13, 151-167. 

Working Paper version

Staff Support at UH Manoa: A Comparative Analysis

This study provides a comparative analysis of the staff support at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UHM), its peer group (Peer), and all 4-year public Doctoral/Research-Extensive Universities (DREU).i To evaluate whether UHM is providing too little or too much staff support to students and faculty, we compare the ratio of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff to FTE enrollment and the ratio of FTE staff to FTE faculty across the three groups of schools. In addition to aggregate staff comparisons, we also evaluate specific support staff categories: executive, administrative, and managerial; other professional (support/service); technical and paraprofessional; clerical and secretarial; skilled crafts; and service/maintenance.

UHero project report

Labor Market Effects of Employer-Provided Health Insurance

This is an experimental study in economics of mandated benefits. Most individuals who have health insurance in the US obtain it through their employer. Some states either have or are considering government mandates that require employers to provide insurance to all full-time workers. We use an experimental laboratory to investigate possible effects of alternative health insurance regulations on the competitive labor market performance. We find that mandating the insurance for all workers creates labor market distortions; whereas mandating the insurance only for full-time workers leads to a higher coverage then under no mandate, an increased number of part-time workers, but does not necessarily lower market efficiency.

working paper

Spatial containment of invasive species: Insights from economics

Economics can clarify the discussion on invasive species in at least three ways. First is
through the use of incentives to change human behavior so as to enhance protection
against the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive species across the world.
The second recognizes the public good characteristics of invasive species control, and
develops institutions to support the weakest members of our global community (Perrings
et al. 2002). The third component involves choosing optimal investment in invasive
species management across space, species, and time. This paper is a first attempt at
addressing the third component, optimal spatial containment of an invasive species.

working paper

Optimal Public Control of Exotic Species: Preventing the Brown Tree Snake from Invading Hawai‘i

This paper develops a theoretical model for the efficient establishment of economic policy pertaining to invasive species, integrating prevention and control of invasive species into a single model of optimal control policy, and applies this model to the case of the Brown tree snake as a potential invader of Hawaii.

working paper

Economic impacts of non-indigenous species: Miconia and the Hawaiian economy

Imperfect scientific information regarding potential invasiveness, differences between private and public outcomes for individual decisions regarding planting, and inadequate prevention activity combine to impose costs through a change in native ecosystems susceptible to invasion by hardy, rapidly reproducing non-indigenous species. Concepts and tools from economic theory that may improve policy decisions are explored through the specific example of Miconia calvescens in Hawaii. Rapid expansion of Miconia calvescens, an ornamental tree introduced to several Pacific Islands over the last century, threatens local watersheds, endangered species, and recreational and aesthetic values in the Hawaiian and Society Islands. Potential welfare losses from the unchecked spread of Miconia in Hawaii are illustrated. Policy options investigated include accommodation of these losses, efforts at containment, or eradication. Estimates are determined through an optimal control model describing the potential expansion of the weed and its control costs and damages. Results suggest that cost-effective policies will vary with the level of invasion as well as the expected net benefits from control efforts.

working paper

Efficient Water Allocation with Win-Win Conservation Surcharges: The Case of the Ko‘olau Watershed

The one-demand Hotelling model fails to explain the observed specialization of non-renewable resources. We develop a model with multiple demands and resources to show that specialization of resources according to demand is driven by Ricardian comparative advantage while the order of resource use over time is determined by Ricardian absolute advantage. An abundant resource with absolute advantage in all demands must be initially employed in all demands. When each resource has an absolute advantage in some demand, no resource may be used exclusively. The two-by-two model is characterized. Resource and demand-specific taxes are shown to have significant substitution effects. 

working paper

Valuing Indirect Ecosystem Services: the Case of Tropical Watersheds

Mitigating the harmful effects of development projects and industries (negative environmentalism) is inadequate, especially in resource-dependent economies whose resources are at risk from other forces. While positive environmentalism includes conservation projects, the non-market benefits of such projects are difficult to evaluate. This paper provides and illustrates a method for evaluating the indirect, watershed benefits of a tropical forest, without resorting to survey methods. The conservation of trees prevents a reapportionment from groundwater recharge to runoff that would otherwise occur. The value of the water saved is then valued at the shadow prices obtained from an optimizing model. An illustration of the model shows that watershed conservation projects may have very high payoffs, even before assessing existence values and other forest amenities.

working paper

Control of Invasive Species: Lessons from Miconia in Hawai'i

 The threat of invasive species stems from their ability to rapidly and irreversibly change ecosystems and degrade the value of ecosystem services. Optimal control of a pre-established exotic pest minimizes the costs of population reduction plus the residual damages from the remaining pest population. The shrubby tree, Miconia calvescens, is used to illustrate dynamic policy options for a forest invader. Potential damages to Hawaii's forest ecosystems are related to decreased aquifer recharge, biodiversity, and other ecosystem values. We find that population reduction is the optimal management policy for the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii. On the island of Kauai, however, optimal policy calls for deferring control expenditures until the (larger) steady state population is reached.

working paper

Tourism’s Forward and Backward Linkages

This article proposes linkage analysis as a complement to the traditional tourism-impact analysis to examine tourism’s economic imprints on a destination’s economy. The starting point of tourism-impact analysis is final demand; impact analysis measures the direct and indirect impacts of tourist spending on the local economy. The starting point of linkage analysis is the tourism sector; the analysis examines the strengths of the inter-sectoral forward (FL) and backward (BL) relationships between the tourism sector and the nontourism industries. The FL measures the relative importance of the tourism sector as supplier to nontourism industries in the economy, whereas the BL measures its relative importance as demander. Directly applying conventional linkage analysis to tourism is not straightforward because tourism is not a defined industry. Thus, we develop a methodology to calculate tourism’s forward and backward linkages using national, regional, or local input-output tables and demonstrate its utility by applying it to Hawaii.

Published:  Cai, J., Leung, P. and Mak, J., 2006. Tourism's forward and backward linkages.  Journal of Travel Research, 45 (1), 36-52.

working paper version

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