The Road Less Traveled: Does Forest Conservation Reduce Malaria in the Brazilian Amazon?, Subhrendu Pattanayak
Date/Time: March 29, 2011, 4:30 p.m.
Location: Guyot Hall, Room 100
Recent claims that ecosystems generate health benefits rests on a very thin empirical base of questionable quality. It is particularly difficult to deliver practical policy advice because there is almost no evidence that specific conservation policies generate health benefits. In this paper we build a comprehensive dataset which allows us to investigate the joint effects of different covariates on malaria, while applying innovative methods to allow for panel effects.
We focus on the Brazilian Amazon because the region suffers from endemic malaria, high deforestation, persistent poverty and in-migration, even as the government actively pursues a sustainable development agenda, including the expansion of protected areas and road building in the region. We build a unique data set by combining municipal-level panel data on malaria surveillance and key demographic, socioeconomic, climatic and land use covariates.
We find evidence on the “double-(health)-dividends” of conservation policies. If health is an important by product, a portfolio of conservation strategies including control of unofficial roads (instead of focusing only on preventing new official road construction) and in-migration and the promotion of strict protection and indigenous reserves (in addition to sustainable use protected areas) merits further consideration.
Subhrendu Pattanayak is an associate professor of Public Policy, Environmental Economics, and Global Health at Duke University. He studies how human behaviors relate to the environment by collaborating with ecologists, epidemiologists, statisticians and other social scientists. Towards this end, he attempts to build models to analyze the causes and consequences of human behaviors, and use estimated parameters in integrated simulation tools to help design behavioral interventions (policies).
His research has been in two domains: (a) economics of environmental health, and (b) evaluation of forest ecosystem services. In both cases, he has focused on socially marginal populations, and examined policies that are motivated by inequities and a range of efficiency concerns - externalities, public goods and imperfect information. For example, he has built a research program on water, sanitation and health in South Asia, serving as the principal investigator for several World Bank grants. In order to fund, design, implement, and disseminate results from this research, he has collaborated closely with policy-makers in multi-lateral, national, state, and local governments, as well as NGOs, academics, and local research organizations in India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the U.S.
He is also a Fellow and faculty member of the South Asian Network of Development and Environmental Economists.