Theses Doctoral

When Nature Meets Human Nature: Essays on the Social Impacts of Energy Infrastructure and Environmental Policy

Zhang, Alice Tianbo

A key challenge confronting modern policymakers is to ensure that economic development is both socially just and environmentally sustainable. Toward that goal, effective government regulations require the accurate quantification of their associated costs and benefits. An extensive theoretical and empirical literature in economics has shown the benefits of government policies in addressing market failures and providing public goods. But few studies have credibly identified the social costs and distributional impacts of existing policies. My dissertation integrates new data and empirical methods from economics and earth sciences to investigate the social impacts of energy infrastructure and environmental policy. Chapter 1 uses the Three Gorges Dam in China as a natural experiment to provide the first evidence of the social and economic impacts of dam-induced inundation on population displacement and labor market reallocation. Chapter 2 examines the political economy implications of wind turbine construction on United States congressional elections. Chapter 3 employs original data from a large-scale survey to study the social benefits of environmental quality improvements. Overall, results from these papers inform future research on the social impacts of energy and environmental policy and highlight the importance of unbiased policy evaluations.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sustainable Development
Thesis Advisors
Schlenker, Wolfram
Soares, Rodrigo R.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 28, 2019