Peter Berck

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

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Publications (151)

  • Source
    Laura E Armey · Peter Berck · Jonathan Lipow
    Full-text available · Working Paper · Nov 2016
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using panel data of retail purchases, we measure the effects of the introduction, and later removal, of a bottled-water tax in the state of Washington. We use a difference-in-differences approach to measure effects of the tax against untreated stores (in comparable control states) and untreated weeks (the pre-period). We further estimate triple-difference specifications comparing bottled water to juice and milk substitute products. Our results show that, when imposed, the tax causes bottled water sales to drop by nearly 6% in our preferred specification. Sales never fully recover, even after the tax removal. In terms of the heterogeneity of this effect, we find larger quantity drops in high tax rate areas and in the lowest and highest quintile income areas.
    Article · May 2016 · American Journal of Agricultural Economics
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The costly interactions between humans and wildfires throughout California demonstrate the need to understand the relationships between them, especially in the face of a changing climate and expanding human communities. Although a number of statistical and process-based wildfire models exist for California, there is enormous uncertainty about the location and number of future fires, with previously published estimates of increases ranging from nine to fifty-three percent by the end of the century. Our goal is to assess the role of climate and anthropogenic influences on the state's fire regimes from 1975 to 2050. We develop an empirical model that integrates estimates of biophysical indicators relevant to plant communities and anthropogenic influences at each forecast time step. Historically, we find that anthropogenic influences account for up to fifty percent of explanatory power in the model. We also find that the total area burned is likely to increase, with burned area expected to increase by 2.2 and 5.0 percent by 2050 under climatic bookends (PCM and GFDL climate models, respectively). Our two climate models show considerable agreement, but due to potential shifts in rainfall patterns, substantial uncertainty remains for the semiarid inland deserts and coastal areas of the south. Given the strength of human-related variables in some regions, however, it is clear that comprehensive projections of future fire activity should include both anthropogenic and biophysical influences. Previous findings of substantially increased numbers of fires and burned area for California may be tied to omitted variable bias from the exclusion of human influences. The omission of anthropogenic variables in our model would overstate the importance of climatic ones by at least 24%. As such, the failure to include anthropogenic effects in many models likely overstates the response of wildfire to climatic change.
    Full-text available · Article · Apr 2016 · PLoS ONE
  • Data: S1 File
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fig A. Nonlinear regression curves for selected variables. Nonlinear coefficient estimates traces the effect of key coefficients from the final model (5) in Table 2. Fig B. Difference between actual and predicted % of total fires for 1976–2000 and 1951–2000 estimates. Difference in the percentage of total pixels in each fire count category for 1976–2000 (top panel) and 1951–2000 (bottom panel). Values above zero indicate overestimates in the number of pixels for any given fire count class. The top panel presents each of the 30 individual model runs (blue) and estimates from the mean model (red) for the estimation 1976–2000 period. The lower panel presents the estimates from the 1951–1975 period for the mean model (red). Fig C. Actual wildfire count 1976–2000. Total count of wildfires for the 1976–2000 period as recorded by the FRAP fire record. (DOCX)
    File available · Data · Apr 2016
  • Lunyu Xie · Peter Berck · Jintao Xu
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Chinese government has allowed collective village forest land to pass into individualized ownership. The purpose was to alleviate rural poverty and stimulate investment in forests. Using data collected from 288 villages, in eight provinces, over three years, this paper measures the effect of the individualization on one aspect of forest investment, forestation. Because villages voted on the reform, we identify the causal effect of the reform by an instrumental variable estimator based on the countywide decision to offer the reform package. We find an increase in forestation of 7.68% of forest land in the year of the reform.
    Article · Apr 2016 · China Economic Review
  • Peter Berck · Sofia B. Villas-Boas
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article shows when a triple difference strategy using an imperfect control category improves on the double difference strategy for estimating an average treatment effect. For example, a product is treated in one place and not another leading to a double difference strategy. When does comparison with an untreated product in triple difference strategy improve accuracy?
    Article · Aug 2015 · Applied Economics Letters
  • Michael L Mann · Peter Berck · Max A Moritz · [...] · D Richard Cameron
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    File available · Data · Sep 2014
  • Source
    Michael L Mann · Peter Berck · Max A Moritz · [...] · D Richard Cameron
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Full-text available · Article · Jul 2014 · Land Use Policy
  • Jintao Xu · Peter Berck
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Article · Feb 2013 · Environment and Development Economics
  • Peter Berck · Jonathan Lipow
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Article · Dec 2012 · Applied Economics Letters
  • Peter Berck · Dana Cole · Sandra Hoffmann · [...] · Lydia Ashton
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Conference Paper · Oct 2012
  • Peter Berck · Lunyu Xie
    Article · Jul 2012 · Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Full-text available · Article · Jan 2012 · Environmental and Resource Economics
  • Source
    Peter Berck · Amnon Levy · Khorshed Chowdhury
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Full-text available · Article · Jan 2012 · Ecological Economics
  • Lunyu Xie · Peter Berck · Jintao Xu
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Article · Dec 2011 · SSRN Electronic Journal
  • Source
    David Newburn · Peter Berck
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Full-text available · Article · Nov 2011 · Journal of Environmental Economics and Management
  • Source
    Peter Berck · Jonathan Lipow
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Full-text available · Article · Jul 2011 · Southern Economic Journal
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Full-text available · Article · Apr 2011
  • Source
    David A. Newburn · Peter Berck
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Full-text available · Article · Mar 2011 · Journal of Environmental Economics and Management
  • Source
    Peter Berck · Jonathan Lipow
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Full-text available · Article · Mar 2011 · SSRN Electronic Journal

Publication Stats

1k Citations

Institutions

  • 1981-2015
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
      Berkeley, California, United States
  • 2001
    • Santa Barbara Infrared
      Santa Barbara, California, United States
  • 2000
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Department of Economics
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 1999
    • The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
      Columbus, Ohio, United States
  • 1986
    • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
      Be'er Sheva`, Southern District, Israel