Jacob LaRiviere, assistant professor of economics, works on measuring and valuing the impact of policy changes, primarily policies that affect the environment. During a recent two-month period he had four different papers accepted in peer-reviewed economics and agricultural economics journals. Three of the papers concern how economists measure individuals’ willingness-to-pay for an environmental change such as a biodiversity program or a water quality improvement. Two of those provide robust statistical techniques and the third, which will appear in the highly-regarded Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, finds that individuals are willing to pay substantially more for such programs when they learn that their own information about the environment is more accurate.
The fourth paper explores the impact of health policy innovations by looking at how the introduction of one particular life-style drug, Viagra, affected behavior of the target population of older men and whether there were spillovers affecting non-target groups. Results show that the introduction of Viagra caused an increase in sexually-transmitted diseases among older men, but not among women of any age, and that it had no causal effect on the number of children fathered by older men, on the age spread among married couples, on divorce rates, or on sexual assault rates.