Research in progress

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

Environmental, market, and institutional resiliency in developing coastal communities in Mexico
(with J.C. Villaseñor)

The provision of public goods through property rights
(with C. Costello and D. Kaffine)

Contingent valuation of the hurricane forecast program at NOAA
(with D. Letson, B. McNoldy, and P. Mozumder)

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

The value of hurricane forecast (with B. McNoldy and Ivan Rudik)

The effect of adaptation investment on housing values - Implications for spatial gentrification and public mitigation investments
(with D. Kelly)

Next Generation of Coastal Structures: Incorporating Ecology, Engineering, Economics, and Aesthetic for a Changing Ocean
(with S. Andiroglu, J. Lamere, B. Lynn, D. Kelly, S. Prannoy, J. Sobczak, and K. Sullivan).

Working papers

Why Natural Disasters are a Disaster in Common Property Regimes

Developing countries tend to suffer the most from natural disasters, but the mechanisms underlying this outcome are poorly understood. I postulate that the lack of strong and well defined property rights for renewable resources is a key factor increasing the impacts of disasters. Using a theoretical model for renewable resource extraction with irreversible investment, I show that common property regimes incentivize agents to invest in ways that exacerbate both immediate losses from disasters and increase the cost of recovery after they hit. I test these predictions by examining investment patterns across institutional regimes in Chilean small scale fisheries before and after a tsunami in 2010. The results indicate causal links between more common regimes and excessive investment increasing the cost of the tsunami. This paper contributes to the ongoing work on the economic impact of natural disasters and provides an argument for how institutional regimes can be used as mitigation strategies. Link

Transboundary Marine Protected Areas [Under review]

(with Costello, C.)

Countries exploiting transboundary fisheries face strong incentives for over-exploitation. This basic economic insight has been validated empirically; transboundary fisheries tend to be in worse condition than fisheries in single nations. Thus, transboundary fisheries pose a significant, and globally ubiquitous, management challenge. Attempts to solve this challenge through cross-country cooperation have been largely unsuccessful because defection is often more attractive than adhering to cooperative agreements. We explore the economics of an alternative solution, a transboundary marine protected area (TMPA), and derive the conditions under which it can improve profits and stock biomass, even in the presence of individually-rational non-cooperation across countries. We find that well-designed TMPAs have the potential to overcome non-cooperation across countries; this result is strengthened when stocks have relatively low growth rates. A well-designed TMPA can earn higher profits for both countries, increase stocks in both countries, and reproduce the fully cooperative outcome. Link

Sharing is not caring

(with O. Liu)

Political arrangement of the ocean creates perverse incentives that lead to the overexploitation of transboundary resources, when compared to the social optima. In this paper, we hypothesize that transboundary resources in the ocean must be subject to more aggressive extraction and in worse conservation status. We formalize this intuition with a theoretical model of resource extraction and then test these claims empirically by examining global fisheries. We compile a novel dataset that that traces the spatial distribution of the most important fisheries globally, and show that shared fisheries are in worse shape than those contained in single economic exclusive zones, even in the presence of extraction agreements and modern management practices. This paper alleviates the surprisingly lack of evidence regarding these international dynamics, and also raises concern as to how future changes to habitat suitability due to climate change may affect and even jeopardize the status of internationally shared natural resources; particularly fisheries. Link

The Economic Impact of Modern Piracy on Global Shipping

(with G. McDonald)

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. Link


Palacios-Abrantes, J., Herrera-Correal, J., Rodriguez, S., Brunkow, J., & Molina, R. 2018. Evaluating the bio-economic performance of a callo de hacha (Atrina maura, Atrina tuberculosa & Pinna rugosa) fishery restoration plan of La Paz cove, Mexico. PLOS ONE 13(12): e0209431. Link

Liu, O., Molina, R., Wilson, M., & Halpern, B. 2018. Global opportunities for mariculture development to promote human nutrition. PeerJ 6:e4733; DOI 10.7717/peerj.4733. Link

Molina, R., Cerda, R., González, E., & Hurtado, F. Simulation model of the scallop (Argopecten purpuratus) farming in northern Chile: some applications in the decision making process. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Resources, 40(3): 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