Documentos de trabajo
PDF | Free | 36 pages
Descargar PDF

The Conservation Movement

Success Through the Selection and Design of Local Referenda

H. Spencer Banzhaf, Wallace E. Oates, and James Sanchirico

Septiembre 2007, inglés

The American electorate demands more conservation. From 1998 to 2006 there were over 1,550 state, county, or municipality ballot measures targeting open-space, wetlands, and forest conservation, of which almost 80% were successful. We analyze which local jurisdictions are most likely to place land-preservation initiatives on the ballot, as a function of local demographics, land uses, and political factors. In addition, we analyze the outcomes of these initiatives, again as a function of these factors as well as initiative-specific details such as financing mechanisms. Our model controls for the selective nature of the sample, both in terms of which communities hold referenda and in terms of which types of referenda they vote on. To do so, we employ a polychotomous sample selection estimator not previously used in this literature.

We find that more educated communities, with fewer children, and voting democratic in presidential elections are more likely to hold and/or vote in favor of open space referenda. We also find that communities are more likely to support referenda financed with bonds, even after controlling for the self-selection of financial mechanisms. Additionally, we find that referenda are more likely to occur in ecologically sensitive areas, though, once on the ballot, there is no evidence that referenda in these areas are more likely to pass. Finally, we find that referenda are indeed occurring in communities where they are most likely to be successful. Taken together, these latter two findings suggest that land trusts as a group, whether by design or by some “invisible hand,” are pursuing a successful strategy to protect ecosystem services.