Distribution of Benefits from Land Conservation

Amy Ando (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

November 7, 2022, 11:00–12:15


Room Salle 1

Environment Economics Seminar


Land conservation efforts throughout the U.S. enhance ecological amenities while generating wealth in the housing market through capitalization of amenities. This paper estimates the benefits of conservation that are capitalized into proximate home values and quantifies how those benefits are distributed across demographic groups. Using detailed property and household-level data from Massachusetts, we estimate that new land conservation led to $130 million in new housing wealth equity. However, houses owned by low-income or Black or Hispanic households are less likely to be located near protected areas, and hence, these populations are less likely to benefit. Direct study of the distribution of this new wealth from capitalized conservation is highly unequal, with the richest quartile of households receiving 45%, White households receiving 92%, and the richest White households receiving 41%, which is nearly 150% more than would be expected under equal distribution. We extend our analysis using census data for the entire Eastern United States and observe similar patterns. These findings suggest regressive and racially disparate incidence of the wealth benefits of land conservation policy. Could these patterns just reflect the fact that people in different racial and ethnic groups have different preferences for living near protected areas? This talk will also present preliminary evidence from research that uses a choice experiment survey of people in 10 cities in the East Midwest parts of the U.S. to estimate people’s willingness to pay for protecting peri-urban nature and farmland and promoting supply of local food. Findings so far show that people place sizable value on land conservation and local food, and those values do not vary much among socio-economic groups. (with collaborators Corey Lang, Jarron VanCeylon, Fred Nyanzu, and Bryan Parthum)