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The Miracle of Microfinance Revisited: Evidence from Propensity Score Matching

We provide new evidence on the effectiveness of microfinance intervention for poverty alleviation. We apply the Propensity Score Matching (PSM) method to data collected in a recent randomized control trial (RCT) in India by Banerjee et al. (2014). The PSM method allows us to answer an additional set of questions not answered by the original study. First, we explore the characteristics of MFI borrowers relative to two comparison groups: those without any loans and those with other types of loans, predominantly from family and friends and money lenders. Second, we compare the impact on expenditures of MFI borrowers relative to these two comparison groups. We find that microfinance borrowers have higher expenditures in a number of categories, notably durables, house repairs, health, festivals and temptation goods. The differences are stronger relative to those without any loans. Our results suggest that microfinance can make a larger difference for households previously excluded from other credit sources. However, some of the increased expenditures are unlikely to lead to long-term benefits and there is no significant difference in total expenditures. We also present suggestive evidence of negative spillovers, i.e. non-participants reducing some categories of expenditures, while MFI participants “pick up the tab.”

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The Impact of Stronger Property Rights in Pharmaceuticals on Innovation in Developed and Developing Countries

We use dynamic panel data regressions to investigate whether the strength of a country’s patent protection for pharmaceuticals is associated with more pharmaceutical patenting by its residents and corporations in the United States. Using the Pharmaceutical Intellectual Property Protection (PIPP) Index to measure patent strength, we run dynamic probit and Poisson regressions on panels from 25 developing and 41 developed countries over the 1970-2004 period. Results vary, depending on whether we examine partial effects at the mean or average partial effects for the PIPP Index. APEs for the PIPP Index are positive but statistically insignificant in both developed and developing country samples.

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PURPA and the Impact of Existing Avoided Cost Contracts on Hawai'i’s Electricity Sector

The United States has been trying to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuel since the 1970s. Domestic fossil fuel supply initially peaked in 1970, and the oil crises of 1973 and 1979 accelerated domestic policy and investments to develop renewable sources of energy (Joskow, 1997). One such policy—passed in 1978 by the U.S. Congress—was the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).

In this policy brief, we identify the existing PURPA-based contracts in Hawai'i and use a Hawai'i-specific electric sector generation planning model, The Hawai'i Electricity Model (HELM), to estimate the impact that PURPA contracts have on both total system cost and the mix of generation technologies. We study a variety of scenarios under the maintained assumption that the state will achieve the Hawai'i Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires that 40% of electricity sales are generated using renewable sources by the year 2030.

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The Conversation: Carl Bonham on the State Forecast Update

Posted March 3, 2014 | Categories: Media

UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to talk about UHERO's latest State Forecast Update: After Austerity, Road Ahead Will Be Smoother.

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UHERO State Forecast Update: After Austerity, Road Ahead Will Be Smoother

Posted February 28, 2014 | Categories: Forecasts

Federal budget woes caused a softening of growth at year-end. With that behind us, we’ll see better performance in 2014.

A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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Optimal groundwater management when recharge is declining: a method for valuing the recharge benefits of watershed conservation

Demand for water will continue to increase as per capita income rises and the population grows, and climate change can exacerbate the problem through changes in precipitation patterns and quantities, evapotranspiration, and land cover—all of which directly or indirectly affect the amount of water that ultimately infiltrates back into groundwater aquifers. We develop a dynamic management framework that incorporates alternative climate-change (and hence, recharge) scenarios and apply it to the Pearl Harbor aquifer system on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. By calculating the net present value of water for a variety of plausible climate scenarios, we are able to estimate the indirect value of groundwater recharge that would be generated by watershed conservation activities. Enhancing recharge increases welfare by lowering the scarcity value of water in both the near term and the future, as well as delaying the need for costly alternatives such as desalination. For a reasonable range of parameter values, we find that the present value gain of maintaining recharge ranges from 31.1million to over1.5 billion.

Published version: Burnett, K. and Wada, C.A., 2014. Optimal groundwater management when recharge is declining: a method for valuing the recharge benefits of watershed conservation. Environmental Economics and Policy Studies. In Press.

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The Conversation: Carl Bonham on Raising the Minimum Wage

Posted February 12, 2014 | Categories: Media

UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to talk about the research surrounding the issue of raising the minimum wage.

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Global Value Chains and Trade Elasticities

Previous studies have argued that global value chains (GVCs) have increased the sensitivity of trade to external business cycle shocks. This may occur either because GVC trade is concentrated in durable goods industries, which are known to have high income elasticities (a composition effect), or because, within industries, GVC trade has a higher income elasticity than regular trade (a supply chain effect). Using Chinese trade data across customs regimes and industries during the period 1995-2009, we find evidence for the former, but not the latter.

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Hawaii News Now: Dr. Carl Bonham on Raising the Minimum Wage

Posted February 3, 2014 | Categories: Media

UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham appears on Hawaii News Now to weigh in on the topic of minimum wage increase and the research behind it.

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The Effect of Plan B on Teen Abortions: Evidence From the 2006 FDA Ruling

An increase in the availability of emergency contraception (EC) may lead to a decrease in the abortion rate. The 2006 FDA ruling, which relaxed the prescription requirement for EC for women 18 and older, allows us to apply the difference-in-difference methodology on the age-by-year-by-state abortion data to test this hypothesis. Contrary to the literature, we find a moderate reduction in abortion rates among women aged 18 and 19 after 2006 in states that were affected by the change, compared to changes in the control group. These results are robust in a number of specifications and pass the event specification test.

Published Version: Cintina, I., M. Johansen. 2014. The Effect of Plan B on Teen Abortions: Evidence from the 2006 FDA Ruling. Contemporary Economic Policy. In Press.

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Unemployment and Mortality: Evidence from the PSID

We use micro-data to investigate the relationship between unemployment and mortality in the United States using Logistic regression on a sample of over 16,000 individuals. We consider baselines from 1984 to 1993 and investigate mortality up to ten years from the baseline. We show that poor local labor market conditions are associated with higher mortality risk for working-aged men and, specifically, that a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate increases their probability of dying within one year of baseline by 6%. There is little to no such relationship for people with weaker labor force attachments such as women or the elderly. Our results contribute to a growing body of work that suggests that poor economic conditions pose health risks and illustrate an important contrast with studies based on aggregate data.

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Are Hotel Property Taxes Fully Passed on to Hotel Guests?

Recent research on the excise tax effects of the property tax in small, multi-sector open economies suggests that the property tax may not be fully forward shifted to consumers as previously believed. I adapt this analysis to examine whether local hotel property taxes in Hawaii are fully passed on to hotel guests as lawmakers had intended. We conclude that full forward shifting is unlikely. I argue that an excise/sales tax on hotel occupancy is preferable to the property tax as a tourist tax.

Published Version: Mak, James. "Research Note: Are hotel property taxes fully passed on to hotel guests? Implications from recent research on property tax incidence." Tourism Economics 21.4 (2015): 899-905. Web.

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UHERO Asia-Pacific Forecast: Pacific Rim Will Edge Forward After Weak 2013

Posted December 6, 2013 | Categories: Forecasts


The Asia-Pacific region has seen another year of lackluster growth. The global environment for exports— the region’s lifeblood—has remained exceptionally weak, as the European debt crisis has lingered and US fiscal contraction and inaction have slowed the world’s largest economy. Developed economy weakness and a deliberate policy shift have limited the growth impetus from China as well. 2014 promises to be marginally better, now that Europe has begun to emerge from recession and the worst of the US budget drag is hopefully behind us.

A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

 

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Sumner La Croix on NPR: Could Hawaii Become a Same Sex Wedding Destination?

Molly Solomon of Hawaii Public Radio interviews UHERO Research Fellow and Professor of Economics Sumner La Croix, and others, in her piece 'Could Hawaii Become A Same Sex Wedding Destination?'.

"Same sex couples will be attracted to Hawaii for the same reasons that opposite-sex couples are attracted to Hawaii. It's the great weather, it's the warm water, it's the beautiful scenery. And it's also the Aloha spirit."

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Integrating Demand-Management with Development of Supply-Side Substitutes

Sustaining water availability at current prices in the face of growing demand and declining resources is not possible, and scarcity is further exacerbated by falling recharge levels due to climate change, urbanization, and watershed depreciation. We discuss an integrated approach to water-resource development based on principles of sustainability science. In addition to demand management such as pricing, we consider supply-side substitutes such as desalination and wastewater recycling. The importance of integrating demand- and supply-side approaches is especially evident in the case of watershed conservation as climate adaptation. Watershed conservation reduces scarcity by improving groundwater recharge. Yet, incorrect pricing can waste those potential gains. We discuss a joint management strategy, wherein block prices for groundwater consumption and co-determined prices for watershed conservation incentivize and finance efficient profiles of both.

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