Peter Berck

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States

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Publications (99)70.16 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Shapefile outputs from "Modeling residential development in California from 2000 to 2050: Integrating wildfire risk, wildland and agricultural encroachment" Between 1940 and 2000, nearly 10 million housing units were constructed throughout California. This increased interaction between human and natural communities creates a number of significant socio-ecological challenges. Here we present a novel spatially explicit model that allows better characterization of the extent and intensity of future housing settlements using three development scenarios between 2000 and 2050. We estimate that California's exurban land classes will replace nearly 12 million acres of wild and agricultural lands. This will increase threats to ecosystems and those presented by wildfire, as the number of houses in ‘very high’ wildfire severity zones increases by nearly 1 million.
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    ABSTRACT: [Shapefile available on researchgate] Between 1940 and 2000, nearly 10 million housing units were constructed throughout California. This increased interaction between human and natural communities creates a number of significant socio-ecological challenges. Here we present a novel spatially explicit model that allows better characterization of the extent and intensity of future housing settlements using three development scenarios between 2000 and 2050. We estimate that California's exurban land classes will replace nearly 12 million acres of wild and agricultural lands. This will increase threats to ecosystems and those presented by wildfire, as the number of houses in ‘very high’ wildfire severity zones increases by nearly 1 million.
    Land Use Policy 07/2014; 41:438-452. DOI:10.1016/j.landusepol.2014.06.020 · 3.13 Impact Factor
  • Jintao Xu · Peter Berck
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    ABSTRACT: This special issue covers several important aspects of China's environmental policy, ranging from evaluation of government programs (biogas and the Sloping Land Conversion Program) that aim directly to enhance the rural environment, to the reform of natural resource sectors (collective and state forest reforms) that set foundations for the sustainable use of natural resources, and to the impacts of urban environmental policies (including urban transportation management and industrial pollution control policy). We provide an overview of the topic and a brief introduction to each of the contributed papers.
    Environment and Development Economics 02/2013; 19(01):1-7. DOI:10.1017/S1355770X13000624 · 0.67 Impact Factor
  • Peter Berck · Jonathan Lipow
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    ABSTRACT: Insurgencies and terrorist activities are often dependent on foreign sources of funding. When this is the case, trade barriers such as import tariffs can prove to be an effective means of combating violence and enhancing social welfare. In this article, we identify the optimal tariff for a country facing an externally financed insurgency.
    Applied Economics Letters 12/2012; 19(18):1847-1849. DOI:10.1080/13504851.2012.667543 · 0.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Information about the food sources of foodborne illness provides the foundation for targeting interventions to prevent foodborne illness under the new Food Safety Modernization Act. Current foodborne illness source attribution estimates are based on outbreak investigations, yet outbreaks account for less than 5% of total foodborne illnesses in the U.S. Case control studies suggest that attribution estimates from outbreak data do not reflect the role of different foods in causing sporadic foodborne illnesses equally well for all pathogens. FoodNet active surveillance data captures sporadic illness, but historically has not directly linked these illnesses to foods. This study weds epidemiological and economics data and research methods to provide an entirely new approach to foodborne source attribution that focuses on sporadic foodborne illness and food consumption. The work is a collaboration between the CDC, the USDA Economic Research Service and the University of California, Berkeley Dept of Agricultural and Resource Economics. It uses time series modeling methods developed in economics, FoodNet surveillance data, and Neilsen HomeScan consumption data to estimate multipliers between food consumption and sporadic illness. The method uses lag structure, seasonality, and geographic variability as well as exogenous controls to identify and estimate the relationship between campylobacteriosis and illness from non-O157 STEC and consumption of different foods from 2000 to 2008. This presentation will focus on the methodological links between epidemiology and economics and on the development of successful interdisciplinary research collaborations.
    140st APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition 2012; 10/2012
  • Peter Berck · Lunyu Xie
    Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 07/2012; 4(3):203-207. DOI:10.1080/19390459.2012.706479
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    ABSTRACT: The last 10 years have seen tremendous expansion in biofuels production, particularly in corn ethanol in the United States, at the same time that commodity prices (e.g., corn) have experienced significant spikes. While supporters claim that biofuels are renewable and carbon-friendly, concerns have been raised about their impacts on land use and food prices. This paper analyzes how US crop prices have responded to shocks in acreage supply; these shocks can be thought of as a shock to the residual supply of corn for food. Using a structural vector auto-regression framework, we examine shocks to a crop’s own acreage and to total cropland. This allows us to estimate the effect of dedicating cropland or non-crop farmlands to biofuels feedstock production. A negative shock in own acreage leads to an increase in price for soybeans and corn. Our calculations show that increased corn ethanol production during the boom production year 2006/2007 explains approximately 27% of the experienced corn price rise.
    Environmental and Resource Economics 01/2012; 53(1). DOI:10.1007/s10640-012-9550-x · 1.52 Impact Factor
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    Peter Berck · Amnon Levy · Khorshed Chowdhury
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    ABSTRACT: Due to the open-access nature of the environment we consider an ad hoc adjustment of people’s footprints to the quality of the environment. The adjustment is due to concerns, but hindered by skepticism about announced changes in the state of the environment. Changes in the quality of the environment affect Earth’s carrying capacity. By expanding the Lotka-Volterra predator-prey model to include these features we show that despite skepticism the environment-population system does not collapse. We also show that in the ideal case of no skepticism, the interplay between the non-optimally changing environmental concerns and carrying capacity sends the world’s environment and human population on an oscillating course that leads to a unique interior steady state. These results require no further technological, social or international progress.
    Ecological Economics 01/2012; 73. DOI:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.09.019 · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    Lunyu Xie · Peter Berck · Jintao Xu
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    ABSTRACT: Aiming to alleviate rural poverty, stimulate investment in forests, and improve forest conservation, the Chinese government set forth a policy leading to small private holdings of previously village administered forest lands. Using data collected from 288 villages in eight provinces in three years, this paper measures the effect of the reform on forestation. Villages needed to vote for the privatization for the reform to be effective. To identify the causal effect of taking the reform, we use an IV estimator based on the county wide decision to offer the reform package. We find an increase in forestation of 7.9% of the forest land in the year of the reform.
    SSRN Electronic Journal 12/2011; DOI:10.2139/ssrn.1782289
  • David Newburn · Peter Berck
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    ABSTRACT: Exurbia, the rural area beyond the built-up urban and contiguous suburban area, is being developed rapidly with attendant losses in habitat and ecosystem services. This paper analyzes a spatial dynamic model with two production technologies for residential development-municipal sewer service for suburban development and septic systems for exurban development. In outlying agricultural areas, the additional sewer extension costs can significantly reduce the value of agricultural land in suburban use. Exurban development, while at lower density, can occur immediately and requires only the onsite conversion costs of septic systems. Hence, the willingness to pay for exurban use from households with higher preferences for lot size may exceed the agricultural landowner's reservation price on future suburban use for a range of distances from the city boundary. This results in a "feasible zone" for exurban leapfrog development and another fundamental reason for scattered development in the urban-rural fringe.
    Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 11/2011; 62(3):323-336. DOI:10.1016/j.jeem.2011.05.006 · 2.17 Impact Factor
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    Peter Berck · Jonathan Lipow
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    ABSTRACT: In this article, we develop a model of military manpower mobilization. We use the model to evaluate the efficacy of volunteer- and conscription-based manpower systems within a framework of social welfare maximization. We find that neither conscription nor a volunteer approach is likely to be “first best” because of asymmetries of information and constraints on the military pay structure. We then modify the general model by considering the possibility that recruits with high civilian productivity are also more capable soldiers and find that, under such circumstances, conscription may be a more benign form of manpower mobilization than previously understood. We also consider and evaluate various alternatives available to militaries attempting to minimize the welfare losses associated with manpower mobilization.
    Southern Economic Journal 07/2011; 78(1):95-106. DOI:10.4284/0038-4038-78.1.95 · 0.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Weather Index Insurance (WII) has recently gained increased attention as a tool to providing farmers coverage against losses from weather shocks. Despite extensive implementations in African and Latin Amercian countries, there is yet little empirical evidence about the effectiveness of WII. This paper is the first to analyze the economic effects of a large scale WII using new administrative data from Mexico. To study the impacts on productivity, income and risk management, our identification strategy takes advantage of the variation across counties and over time in which the insurance was rolled-out from 2003 to 2008. We find that WII significantly increases yields per hectare by 6% and WII increases income by 8%, pointing towards a positive spillover effect. Exploring the potential mechanisms of this spillover effect, we find that WII decreases the planted area of maize (Mexico's main crop) by 8%. This allows farmers to use the gained land potentially more effectively by substituting into other cash crops raising overall farm output. Important credit constraints are likely relaxed as well. Generally, we find that most significant benefits occur in 'medium' income counties, raising productivity by 8%. WII has instead less affects in the very richest counties. Overall, however, we find that Mexico's subsidized WII is cost-inefficient from a societal perspective.
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    David A. Newburn · Peter Berck
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    ABSTRACT: Exurbia, the rural area beyond the built-up urban and contiguous suburban area, is being developed rapidly with attendant losses in habitat and ecosystem services. This paper analyzes a spatial dynamic model with two production technologies for residential development - municipal sewer service for suburban development and septic systems for exurban development. In outlying agricultural areas, the additional sewer extension costs can significantly reduce the value of agricultural land in suburban use. Exurban development, while at lower density, can occur immediately and requires only the onsite conversion costs of septic systems. Hence, the willingness to pay for exurban use from households with higher preferences for lot size may exceed the agricultural landowner’s reservation price on future suburban use for a range of distances from the city boundary. This results in a “feasible zone” for exurban leapfrog development and another fundamental reason for scattered development in the urban-rural fringe.
    Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 03/2011; 62(3). DOI:10.2139/ssrn.1782169 · 2.17 Impact Factor
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    Peter Berck · Jonathan Lipow
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    ABSTRACT: Analyses of optimal government capital structure generally follow Bohn (1990) and Barro (1995) in assuming risk neutrality or an exogenous risk premium. These analyses usually conclude that the optimal government capital structure stabilizes tax rates over time and states of nature to the greatest extent possible, something known as "tax smoothing." In this paper, we show that when an endogenous risk premium is introduced, the optimal government capital structure will no longer smooth tax rates. Under likely conditions, the optimal structure requires a larger short position in risky assets than that implied by tax smoothing.
    SSRN Electronic Journal 03/2011; DOI:10.2139/ssrn.1782142
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    ABSTRACT: Biofuels are widely touted as viable, albeit not straightforward, alternatives to petroleum-derived fuels. To best determine their utilization, many practitioners turn to life-cycle assessment (LCA) to ascertain the “environmental footprint”. Although parameters such as resource and land use, along with infrastructure, can be incorporated into LCA algorithms, many have noted that the methodological approach still needs careful attention. In this Feature, McKone et al. outline seven grand challenges that need to be engaged and surmounted to provide the best way forward for biofuel use. Second Runner-up, Top 2011 Feature Paper in ES&T
    Environmental Science & Technology 03/2011; 45(5):1751-6. DOI:10.1021/es103579c · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: California and Sweden are both leaders in green regulations and actions. In both there is a substantial political base for environmental regulation, yet the path to regulation in these two political entities is quite different. California emphasizes command and control regulations while Sweden makes heavy use of taxes. We show that both underlying economic factors and the constraints of the larger systems in which these economies are embedded contribute to their choice of control methods.
    Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 01/2011; 3(1):49-61. DOI:10.1080/19390459.2011.534633
  • Peter Berck
    Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 01/2011; 3(1):1-4. DOI:10.1080/19390459.2011.534627
  • Peter Berck · Lunyu Xie
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    ABSTRACT: California's ‘Scoping Plan’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions relies on vehicle emissions standards, low carbon fuels, and renewable electricity, as well as a regional cap-and-trade system and other market-based instruments. The process has been guided by a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, the Environmental Dynamic Revenue Analysis Model (E-DRAM). The model shows that the Scoping Plan measures will result in net benefits for the state economy, measured in gross state product (industrial output), employment, and personal income. Most of the benefits result from reduced energy costs. Despite aggregate net benefits, individual industrial sectors gain or lose differentially.
    Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 01/2011; 3(1):37-47. DOI:10.1080/19390459.2011.534631
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    ABSTRACT: Weather shocks are a major source of income fluctuation and most of the world's poor lack insurance coverage against them. In addition, the absence of formal insurance contributes to poverty traps as investment decisions are conflicted with risk management decisions: risk-averse farmers tend to under-invest and concentrate in the production of lower yielding yet safer crops. Recently, weather-indexed insurance has gained increased attention as an effective tool providing small-scale farmers coverage against aggregate shocks. However, there is little empirical evidence about its effectiveness. In this paper we study the effects of the recently introduced rainfall-indexed insurance on farmers' productivity, risk management strategies and per capita income and expenditures in Mexico. Our identification strategy takes advantage of the variation across counties and across time in which the insurance was rolled-out. We find that insurance presence in treated counties has significant and positive effects on maize productivity. Similarly, there is a positive association between insurance presence in the county and rural households' per capita expenditure and income. However, we find no significant relation between insurance presence and the number of hectares destined for maize production. (JEL Cavazos, and participants at the UC Berkeley Development Workshop and the 2010 PacDev for very useful comments. We are also grateful to Victor Manuel Celaya del Toro at the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture for providing data and insights on the program. All remaining errors are ours.
  • Knut Sydsæter · Arne Strøm · Peter Berck
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    ABSTRACT: The solutions of a homogeneous, linear secondorder difference equation with constant coefficients a and b. C1, C2, and ω are arbitrary constants. If the function ct is itself a solution of the homogeneous equation, multiply the trial solution by t. If this new trial function also satisfies the homogeneous equation, multiply the trial function by t again. (See Hildebrand (1968), Sec. 1.8 for the general procedure.)
    07/2010: pages 63-68;