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Products: Hawaii's People

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Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates and SO2

Kılauea volcano is the largest stationary source of SO2 pollution in the United States of America. Moreover, the SO2 that the volcano emits eventually forms particulate matter, another major pollutant. We use this exogenous source of pollution variation to estimate the impact of particulate matter and SO2 on emergency room admissions and costs in the state of Hawai‘i. Importantly, our data on costs is more accurate than the measures used in much of the literature. We find strong evidence that particulate pollution increases pulmonary-related hospitalization. Specifically, a one standard deviation increase in particulate pollution leads to a 2-3% increase in expenditures on emergency room visits for pulmonary-related outcomes. However, we do not find strong effects for pure SO2 pollution or for cardiovascular outcomes. We also find no effect of volcanic pollution on fractures, our placebo outcome. Finally, the effects of particulate pollution on pulmonary-related admissions are most concentrated among the very young. Our estimates suggest that, since the large increase in emissions that began in 2008, the volcano has increased healthcare costs in Hawai‘i by approximately $6,277,204.

Revised: Posted February 16, 2017


Sumner La Croix on PBS Hawaii Insights: Will Our Children Ever Be Able to Afford to Live in Hawaii?

There seems to be no end to the rising cost of living in Hawaii. The high prices of housing, groceries, gas and other necessities make it more and more difficult for us to live in today's paradise. But what about our children? If it's this hard to make ends meet now, what will life in Hawaii be like for future generations? UHERO's Sumner La Croix joins Daryl Huff and guests on Insights on PBS Hawaii to discuss how these issues impact the islands' middle class residents. 


Creating "Paradise of the Pacific": How Tourism Began in Hawaii

This article recounts the early years of one of the most successful tourist destinations in the world, Hawaii, from about 1870 to 1940. Tourism began in Hawaii when faster and more predictable steamships replaced sailing vessels in trans-Pacific travel. Governments (international, national, and local) were influential in shaping the way Hawaii tourism developed, from government mail subsidies to steamship companies, local funding for tourism promotion, and America’s protective legislation on domestic shipping. Hawaii also reaped a windfall from its location at the crossroads of the major trade routes in the Pacific region. The article concludes with policy lessons.


Investigating the Effects of Furloughing Public School Teachers on Juvenile Crime in Hawaii

 Policymakers have long been concerned about the large social costs of juvenile crime. Detecting the causes of juvenile crime is an important educational policy concern as many of these crimes happen during the school day. In the 2009-10 school year, the State of Hawaii responded to fiscal strains by furloughing all school teachers employed by the Department of Education and canceling classes for seventeen instructional days. We examine the effects of these non-holiday school closure days to draw conclusions about the relationship between time in school and juvenile arrests in the State of Hawaii on the island of Oahu. We calculate marginal effects from fewer juvenile assault and drug-related arrests, although there are no changes in other types of crimes, such as burglaries. The declines in arrests for assaults are the most pronounced in poorer regions of the island while the declines in arrests for assaults are the most pronounced in poorer regions of the island while the decline in drug-related arrests is larger in the relatively more prosperous regions.


The Impact of Marriage Equality on Hawai′i’s Economy and Government: An Update After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decisions

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in the two same-sex marriage cases have substantially increased the short-term and medium-term benefits that could accrue to Hawai‘i if the Hawai‘i State Legislature enacts legislation allowing same-sex marriages to begin in Fall 2013 or early in 2014.


Sumner La Croix on PBS Hawaii Insights: Is Hawaii Losing Its Middle Class?

Is Hawaii losing its middle class? Paradise comes at a price, with rising food and housing costs, a challenged public school system and few professional opportunities in a tourist-driven economy. UHERO's Sumner La Croix joins Malia Mattoch and guests on Insights on PBS Hawaii to discuss how these issues impact the islands' middle class residents. 


Foundations for Hawai‘i’s Green Economy: Economic Trends in Hawai‘i Agriculture, Energy, and Natural Resource Management

It is clear from previous studies that Hawai‘i’s natural capital is highly valued and should be managed accordingly. For example, Kaiser et al. (1999) estimate that the Ko‘olau watershed provides forest benefits valued between $7.4 and $ 14 billion, comprised of water resource benefits ($4,736-­‐9,156 million), species habitat benefits ($487-­‐1,434 million), biodiversity benefits ($0.67-­‐5.5 million), subsistence benefits ($34.7-­‐131 million), hunting related benefits ($62.8-­‐237 million), aesthetic values ($1,040-­‐3,070 million), commercial harvest ($0.6-­‐2.4 million), and ecotourism ($1,000-­‐2,980 million). Hawai‘i’s coral reefs alone are estimated to generate at least $10 billion in present value, or $360 million per annum (Cesar and van Beukering, 2004). Another recent study considering the value to all U.S. households finds that increasing the current size of marine protected areas in Hawai‘i from 1% to 25% and restoring five acres of coral reefs annually would generate $34 billion per year (Bishop et al., 2011).2 While many studies that place value on Hawai‘i’s natural resources have been undertaken in recent years, little is known about the economic impacts generated by agencies charged with protecting and managing these important resources in Hawai‘i. To that end, an online survey of natural resource managers in Hawai‘i was conducted, and the results are summarized in section 6 of this report.


The Impact of Civil Unions on Hawaii's Economy and Government

This report provides quantitative and qualitative measures of the impact of same-sex civil unions on the Hawai`i economy, Hawai`i businesses, and the State of Hawai`i’s budget. More specifically, we examine the effect of civil unions on tourism arrivals to Hawai`i; state government revenues and expenditures; employer provision of health insurance to civil union partners and their dependents; and the family with civil union partners. We conclude that the legalization of civil unions in Hawai`i will have only a very minimal impact on any aspect of Hawai`i’s economy and state government operations.

Working Paper

The Dog ATE my Economics Homework! Estimates of the Average Effect of Treating Hawaii’s Public High School Students with Economics

Hawaii is one of 27 states that do not require testing of public high school students regarding their understanding of economics. We report results for the first economics test administered to a large sample of students in Hawaii public high schools during the Spring 2004 semester. Our analysis focuses on evaluating the impact of a semester-long course in economics on student scores on a 20-question, multiple-choice economics test. We specify and estimate a regression analysis of exam scores that controls for other factors that could influence student performance on the exam. While student scores on the economics exam are relatively low, completion of an economics course and participation in a stock market simulation game each add about one point to student scores.

working paper

Economic Education’s Roller Coaster Ride In Hawaii, 1965-2006

During the early 1960s a few of Hawaii’s public high schools began to offer economics courses, and they gradually became popular social studies electives. By 1999, over 46% of public high school seniors completed a one-semester course in economics. From this peak, enrollment rates would plummet to just 11% in 2003, before rebounding to 27% in 2005 and 2007. Our analysis searches for an explanation by identifying large changes in key variables and public policies that determine demand for and supply of economic education in Hawaii’s schools. We conclude that changes in the incentives facing large Hawaii businesses, University of Hawaii faculty and administrators, and bureaucrats in the State of Hawaii Department of Education have reduced the supply of qualified teachers and student enrollment rates.

working paper

The Contribution of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa to Hawai‘i’s Economy in 2007

The University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (UHM) had its beginnings in 1907 as a college of agriculture and mechanical arts. In 1912, the first permanent building was erected in Manoa valley in UHM’s current location. With the establishment of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1920, the College of Hawai‘i became a university. Statehood and the establishment of the University of Hawai‘i as the "state university" marked the beginning of a period of accelerating enrollment that resulted in the formation of a large diverse system. In 1965, the State Legislature created a statewide system of community colleges and placed it within the University of Hawai‘i, and in 1972, the flagship Manoa campus became the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

UHero Project report

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

Determinants of Success in High School Economics: Lessons from the Field

Recently, the Hawaii Council on Economic Education conducted a survey of high school seniors to gauge their understanding of basic economic concepts. Based on these results, we conduct a series of case studies, consisting of interviews with principals and economics teachers at eight Hawaii public high schools. We summarize the qualitative and quantitative results of these interviews. We then use these and other data to estimate the effects of school, demographic, and other characteristics on average student achievement on the survey. We find that the improvement in student test scores as a result of a one semester economics course is modest, but that the single greatest determinant of achievement is overall school quality. Based on these and other findings, we present recommendations for policy and further research.

working paper

State Financing of Research Universities: The Role of State and University Characteristics

This study estimates the effect of underlying determinants on state funding of Doctoral/Research-Extensive Universities (DREU) in the U.S. Using panel data on 98 DREU over the period from 1987 to 2002, we estimate the effect of a variety of DREU and state characteristics while controlling for institutional level unobserved heterogeneity. Unlike previous studies, we focus solely on DREU, so our estimation results are driven by the within variation of DREU, not by the between variation across different types of universities and colleges. We consider determinants not previously studied such as the competitiveness of programs and quality of students, the mix of degree programs and professional schools, the degree of research orientation of a university, the effects of economies of scale (number of students), the cost of providing education services, and other state characteristics. Not surprisingly, we find that these variables are important factors determining state funding of DREU. Finally, we provide four case studies to illustrate the use of our model in evaluating the funding position of various universities.

working paper

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