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

The impact of proximity to urban areas on the success of fishing cooperatives: evidence from Mexico

[Under review]
(with E. Wintergalen)

Due to global trends in coastal development and population growth, a growing number of small-scale fishing (SSF) communities are within or near urban areas. Organization theory and local-level research suggest that these urban transformations may disincentivize certain forms of SSF self-organization while promoting others. These ideas have potentially important implications for SSF governance but have not been tested on a national scale. To fill this gap, this study uses data from Mexico to establish the relationship between fishing cooperatives’ travel time to the nearest urban center and the probability they are defunct. Results show substantial evidence of an association between a cooperative’s odds of survival and its distance from the nearest large population center. Specifically, a cooperative that is less than half an hour from a large urban center is about twice as likely to go defunct compared to a similar cooperative that is farther away. This result suggests that cooperatives in or near urban areas may face greater challenges compared to their more isolated counterparts. These challenges may include lower transaction costs of commercialization, ecosystem degradation, and the availability of alternative livelihood opportunities. Policymakers in Mexico and beyond should be aware of the possibility that urban fishers may be choosing alternative forms of self-organization, such as patron-client arrangements, that are less conducive to sustainable resource use and participatory governance. Additionally, conservation initiatives that rely upon long-term collaboration with fishing cooperatives may be likelier to succeed in locations farther away from cities, where cooperatives are less likely to go defunct.

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

[R&R at Marine Policy]
(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

[R&R at Journal of Development Studies]
(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

[Under review]
(with G. McDermott, G. McDonald, J.C. Villaseñor-Derbez)

Maritime transport has been historically susceptible to piracy. While broad assessments suggest the impact of modern piracy causes large economic losses, the literature lacks quantification of the magnitude of the costs and the behavioral responses that underpin them. Here, we combine theory and a unique geospatial dataset combining more than 25 million shipping voyages and thousands of pirate encounters across the globe to find that pirate encounters lead to significant and costly avoidance measures. Shippers modify their path along a route to avoid locations with known pirate encounters. This increases voyage distance and duration, which lead to significant increases in fuel and labor costs estimated to be over US$1.5 billion/year. Additionally, emission of CO2, NOx, and SOx due to increased fuel consumption results in environmental damages valued at US$5.1 billion per year. Together, our results provide the first global estimates linking the presence of pirates to individual behavior and aggregate transportation cost, as well as its environmental impact, with major implications for the shipping industry and maritime security 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. Link

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