Essays in environmental economic valuation and decision making in the presence of an environmental disaster
The first essay developed a respondent model of Bayesian updating for a double-bound dichotomous choice (DB-DC) contingent valuation methodology. I demonstrated by way of data simulations that current DB-DC identifications of true willingness-to-pay (WTP) may often fail given this respondent Bayesian updating context. Further simulations demonstrated that a simple extension of current DB-DC identifications derived explicitly from the Bayesian updating behavioral model can correct for much of the WTP bias. Additional results provided caution to viewing respondents as acting strategically toward the second bid. Finally, an empirical application confirmed the simulation outcomes.
The second essay applied a hedonic property value model to a unique water quality (WQ) dataset for a year-round, urban, and coastal housing market in South Florida, and found evidence that various WQ measures affect waterfront housing prices in this setting. However, the results indicated that this relationship is not consistent across any of the six particular WQ variables used, and is furthermore dependent upon the specific descriptive statistic employed to represent the WQ measure in the empirical analysis. These results continue to underscore the need to better understand both the WQ measure and its statistical form homebuyers use in making their purchase decision.
The third essay addressed a limitation to existing hurricane evacuation modeling aspects by developing a dynamic model of hurricane evacuation behavior. A household's evacuation decision was framed as an optimal stopping problem where every potential evacuation time period prior to the actual hurricane landfall, the household's optimal choice is to either evacuate, or to wait one more time period for a revised hurricane forecast. A hypothetical two-period model of evacuation and a realistic multi-period model of evacuation that incorporates actual forecast and evacuation cost data for my designated Gulf of Mexico region were developed for the dynamic analysis. Results from the multi-period model were calibrated with existing evacuation timing data from a number of hurricanes. Given the calibrated dynamic framework, a number of policy questions that plausibly affect the timing of household evacuations were analyzed, and a deeper understanding of existing empirical outcomes in regard to the timing of the evacuation decision was achieved.