Work in progress

The relationship between environmental variability, risk preferences and institutional regimes for the extraction of renewable resources

The economics of climate gentrification
(with D. Kelly and C. Timmins)

Pricing strategic responses in real estate markets with Hedonic methods
(with D. Kelly and C. Timmins)

Species and fleet dynamics in ecosystem-based management
(with J.C. Villaseñor-Derbez)

Whale dynamics and carbon sequestration potential
(with M. Savoca and J.C. Villaseñor-Derbez)

Water market dynamics in the presence of environmental variability
(with A. Ayres)

The socio-economic benefits of augmented observations in hurricane forecasts
(with I. Rudik)

Working papers

Public Preferences for Hard and Nature-based Measures in Miami-Dade County

[Under review]
(with C. Dario and D. Kelly)

Coastal communities urgently need to adapt to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. Physical measures, such as hard, nature-based, or hybrid structures, are a type of adaptation being deployed worldwide to support risk reduction and resilience goals in coastal areas. Local governments that understand what types of physical adaptations local communities value most can build the highest value physical adaptations quickly with high levels of support. Our study employs a discrete choice experiment to analyze public preferences and trade-offs made across project design characteristics of hard and nature-based options in Miami-Dade County. Results of the choice experiment reveal that Miami-Dade County residents prefer nature-based solutions that cover a wide area of protection. In addition, residents strongly favor constructing physical adaptations over the status quo or no adaptation at all. By providing empirical evidence toward different adaptation criteria, our study not only supports local efforts to expand nature-based efforts in Miami-Dade County, but also broadly supports the inclusion of public input and design in adaptation policy.

Trans-sector livelihood resilience in an urban small-scale fishery

[Under review]
(with E. Wintergalen and S. Fulton)

Many coastal small-scale fishing (SSF) communities in low and middle-income countries are experiencing urbanization due to global development and migration patterns. Scholars have documented how processes related to urbanization present SSF communities with a unique series of opportunities and challenges. However, it is still poorly understood how SSF communities perceive and pursue resilience while adapting to these changing conditions. To address this gap, we conduct ethnographic research among the members of an urban fishing cooperative in Cancun, Mexico. Using a grounded theory analytical approach, we find that four factors related to Cancun’s urbanization have incentivized local fishers to adopt a trans-sector perspective of livelihood resilience through which they view fishing as a lucrative but fleeting opportunity, with some actively planning a transition to non-fishing livelihoods. These four factors are the depletion of local fisheries, rising land values, the proliferation of non-fishing livelihood opportunities, and regional migration patterns. Whether the cooperative’s fishers ultimately prove resilient to the stresses of urbanization depends upon the degree to which local governance and support systems align with this perspective and the community’s ability to navigate the evolving set of incentives that push and pull them away from the fishing sector. By contextualizing these findings within the broader literature on SSFs and urban development, we develop a heuristic to hypothesize to what extent these findings are generalizable beyond the study context. We argue that these findings highlight pathways to livelihood resilience for fishers who participate in urban SSFs that are at risk of collapse, challenging previous paradigms of livelihood resilience that predicate resilient outcomes on sustained production within agricultural, pastoral, or SSF systems. If researchers confirm these findings on a broader scale, policymakers and development practitioners who wish to bolster livelihood resilience within similar communities could work to align support programs with this trans-sector perspective.

The Social Value of Predicting Hurricanes

[Under review]
(with I. Rudik) Link

What is the impact and value of hurricane forecasts? We study this question using newly-collected forecast data for major US hurricanes since 2005. We find that higher wind speed forecasts increase pre-landfall protective spending, but erroneous under-forecasts increase post-landfall damage and rebuilding costs. We develop a theoretically-grounded approach for estimating the marginal value of forecast improvements and find that the average annual improvement reduces total per-hurricane costs by over $400,000/county. Improvements since 2007 reduced costs by 18%, totaling billions of dollars per hurricane. This exceeds the annual budget for all federal weather forecasting in the US.

The Economic Impact of Modern Piracy on Global Shipping

(with G. McDermott, G. McDonald, J.C. Villaseñor-Derbez)

Maritime transport has been historically susceptible to piracy. Rough assessments of the impact of modern piracy point to significant losses per year, with most encounters taking place in some of the most important shipping routes globally. In this paper, we unify the sparse theoretical literature with data available for both shipping voyages and pirate encounters to credibly assess the effect of piracy on the shipping industry. We explore theoretical insights to account for strategic behavior based on observed pirate encounters, then compile and analyze a unique geospatial dataset to test those insights. The dataset includes high spatial and temporal resolution information on pirate encounters, individual vessel tracks, and weather at sea. Our results establish the response of the shipping industry to pirate encounters, showing how the reported presence of pirates along a given route increases both the individual and aggregate cost of transportation, as well as its environmental impact, with major implications for the shipping industry at a global scale.


Molina, R, Costello, C. and Kaffine, D., 2024. Sharing and expanding the co-benefits of conservation. Ecological Economics, 218(2024), 108113.

Ovando, D., Liu, O., Molina, R., Parma, A. and Szuwalski, C., 2023. Global effects of marine protected areas on food security are unknown. Nature, 621(7979), E34-E36. Link

Kelly, D. and Molina, R., 2023. Adaptation Infrastructure and its Effects in Property Values in the Face of Climate Impacts. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 10(6), p.1405-1438. (Lead Article) Link
Coverage: UM-Press JAERE

Pearson, H.C., Savoca, M.S., Costa, D.P., Lomas, M.W., Molina, R., Pershing, A.J., Smith, C.R., Villaseñor-Derbez, J.C., Wing, S.R. and Roman, J., 2022. Whales in the carbon cycle: can recovery remove carbon dioxide?. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 38(3), p.238-249. Link
Coverage: Bloomberg CNN Washington Post Business Insider Fast Company

Wintergalen, E.W., Oyanedel, R., Villaseñor-Derbez, J.C., Fulton, S. and Molina, R., 2022. Opportunities and challenges for livelihood resilience in urban and rural Mexican small-scale fisheries. Ecology and Society, 27(3), p.46. Link

Molina, R., 2022. The lack of property rights can make natural disasters worse: The case of small-scale fisheries in Chile. Ecological Economics, 200, p.107540. Link

Liu, O.R. and Molina, R., 2021. The persistent transboundary problem in marine natural resource management. Frontiers in Marine Science, p.1292. Link

Molina, R., Letson, D., McNoldy, B., Mozumder, P. and Varkony, M., 2021. Striving for Improvement: The Perceived Value of Improving Hurricane Forecast Accuracy. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 102(7), p.E1408-E1423. Link
Coverage: UM-Press

Ovando, D., Liu, O., Molina, R. and Szuwalski, C., 2021. Models of marine protected areas must explicitly address spatial dynamics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(23), p.e2025958118. Link

Costello, C. and Molina, R., 2021. Transboundary marine protected areas. Resource and Energy Economics, 65, p.101239. Link
Coverage: UM-Press

Palacios-Abrantes, J., Herrera-Correal, J., Rodríguez, S., Brunkow, J. and Molina, R., 2018. Evaluating the bio-economic performance of a Callo de hacha (Atrina maura, Atrina tuberculosa & Pinna rugosa) fishery restoration plan in La Paz, Mexico. PloS one, 13(12), p.e0209431. Link

Liu, O.R., Molina, R., Wilson, M. and Halpern, B.S., 2018. Global opportunities for mariculture development to promote human nutrition. PeerJ, 6, p.e4733. Link

Molina, R., Cerda, R., González, E. and Hurtado, F., 2012. Simulation model of the scallop (Argopecten purpuratus) farming in northern Chile: some applications in the decision making process. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 40(3), p.679-693. Link

Book chapters

Norambuena, R., González, E., Molina, R. & Gomez, A. 2017. Impacts of Climate Change on Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture in Chile (Chapter 10 – Aquaculture). In: Phillips, B. & Pérez, M. (eds) The Impacts of Climate Change on Fisheries and Aquaculture. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, USA. Link
Coverage: Aqua

González, E., Norambuena, R., Molina, R. & Thomas, F. 2013. Evaluación de potenciales impactos y reducción de la vulnerabilidad de la acuicultura al cambio climático en Chile [Potential Impacts and Reduction of the Aquaculture Vulnerability to Climate Change in Chile]. In: Cambio climático, pesca y acuicultura en América Latina: Potenciales impactos y desafíos para la adaptación. Taller FAO/Centro de investigación Oceanográfica en el Pacifico Sur Oriental (COPAS), Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile. FAO Actas de Pesca y Acuicultura. No. 29. Roma, FAO, 275-335p. Link