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.

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.

Sharing and Expanding the Co-Benefits of Conservation

[Minor revisions at Ecological Economics]
(with C. Costello and D. Kaffine)

Conservation actions typically focus on securing public goods, but they often also create private spillover co-benefits. For example, protecting open space may increase the values of adjacent properties and protecting a coral reef may increase fishing opportunities outside. These privately-captured co-benefits can be substantial, but are rarely tapped to help lower the overall cost of the original conservation intervention. One reason, we argue, is that doing so is difficult: While co-beneficiaries are easily convinced of the benefits of the conservation intervention, they are not obliged to pay for it, and so usually free-ride and enjoy these benefits gratis. We propose an approach called the Co-benefits Coordination Device (CCD), which allows the conservationist to capture some of these co-benefits. This approach can dramatically lower the cost of conservation while being incentive compatible for all parties involved, effectively allowing the co-benefits of conservation to be shared between the conservationist and co-beneficiaries. Under incomplete information – for example if the conservationist does not know the private co-benefits to adjacent landowners with certainty – the CCD can still lower the cost of conservation, but a trade-off emerges between reducing the cost of conservation and the risk of a conservation project not going forward. As this risk is tied to scientific uncertainty, our results highlight that reducing scientific uncertainty can benefit conservationists when they are bargaining with private property owners. We illustrate the use of this mechanism in a simple terrestrial wetlands conservation example and discuss its application in several other conservation settings.

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.


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