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Working Paper: A Multi-Method, Spatial Approach for Explaining the Appearance and Passage of Open Space Referenda

Paper Number: 2012-02

Document Date: 04/2012

Author(s): Martin D. Heintzelman, Patrick J. Walsh, and Dustin J. Grzeskowiak

Subject Area(s): Modeling; Growth Issues; Land Use

JEL Classification: Environmental Economics: General; Ecological Economics: Ecosystem Services; Biodiversity Conservation; Bioeconomics; Industrial Ecology; Government Policy; Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General: Bayesian Analysis; Single Equation Models and Single Variables: Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions

Keywords: environmental referenda; open space; survival model; spatial econometrics; bayesian probit

Abstract: To guard against urban sprawl, many communities in the United States have begun enacting policies to preserve open space, often through local voter referenda. New Jersey sponsors such municipal action through the Green Acres Program by providing funding and low interest loans to towns that choose, through a referendum, to increase property taxes and spend the money raised on open space preservation for the purposes of conservation and/or recreation. Understanding which factors contribute to the appearance and success of these measures is important for policy makers and conservation advocates, not only in New Jersey, but across the United States. Although previous literature has examined this issue, this is the first study to account for spatial dependence/spatial autocorrelation and to explore dynamic issues through survival analysis. The traditional two stage model from the literature is extended by incorporating a Bayesian spatial probit for the first stage and a maximum-likelihood spatial error model in the second stage. A Cox – proportional hazard model is used to examine the timing of referenda appearance. Spatial dependence is found in the second stage of the analysis, indicating future studies should account for its influence. There is not strong evidence for spatial dependence or correlation in the first stage. The survival model is found to be a useful complement to the traditional probit analysis of the first stage.

Published: Heintzelman, Martin D., Patrick J. Walsh, and Dustin J. Grzeskowiak. 2013. “Explaining the Appearance and Success of Open Space Referenda,” Ecological Economics, 95: 108-117.

This paper is part of the Environmental Economics Working Paper Series.

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