Theory, Methods and Public Policy
New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Gary Paul Green, Steven C. Deller and David D. Marcouiller
Gary Paul Green, Steven C. Deller and David W. Marcouiller Our images of rural areas are still dominated by pastures, working forests being actively harvested and mountainous landscapes dotted with mines. For much of the past century, rural communities have struggled with population and employment loss, high rates of poverty and a paucity of ﬁnancial resources to provide basic services to residents. Improvements in technology, transportation and communication systems promised to improve the quality of life for rural residents, but the primary beneﬁciaries have been communities on the urban fringe. Technological change has reduced demand for workers and producers, especially in forest products and agricultural commodities. Not all rural communities are facing these pressures, however. Many communities are experiencing high rates of population, income and employment growth. Most of these communities are heavily endowed with natural amenities. Rather than extracting natural resources for external markets, these communities have begun to build economies based on promoting environmental quality. This shift in rural economies from extraction of natural resources to promotion of natural and cultural amenities is apparent throughout Europe and North America. Amenities can be broadly deﬁned as qualities of a region that make it an attractive place to live and work (Power 1988, p. 142). In many cases, amenities are immobile, nonsubstitutable and provide direct and/or indirect beneﬁts to people. Examples include such things natural or wildlife areas and parks, but they would also include historic buildings and sites and cultural settlements (such as Amish communities). Amenities,...