Melstrom, Richard T.

September, 2018

By: Melstrom, Richard T.; Lee, Kangil; Byl, Jacob P.
The U.S. Endangered Species Act is often criticized as “pitting people against wildlife" by conserving habitat at the cost of jobs, but relatively little is known about the labor market effects of listing a species under the Endangered Species Act. We examine changes in employment associated with the lesser prairie chicken, which was listed as threatened in May 2014. Using county-level employment data and variation in suitable prairie chicken habitat, we apply a difference-in-differences strategy to measure the employment effects of the listing decision. We find evidence that employment declined about 1.5% in affected counties. The effect is proportional to habitat, which means counties with relatively more habitat experienced a larger share of employment losses.