Theory, Methods and Public Policy
New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Gary Paul Green, Steven C. Deller and David D. Marcouiller
Chapter 8: The Role of Wilderness and Public Land Amenities in Explaining Migration and Rural Development in the American Northwest
Christy Dearien, Gundars Rudzitis and John Hintz INTRODUCTION Neoclassical migration models were based traditionally on the assumption that people moved for economic reasons such as employment or increased income. In a classic article Sjaasted (1962) set the decision to move within a cost–beneﬁt framework where individuals evaluated the relative tradeoﬀs as the basis to move or stay. He was aware of noneconomic, or what he called psychic costs. These costs included attachments people had to the places where they were currently living. However, because measuring psychic costs would be very diﬃcult we should ‘ignore psychic costs of migration since they involve no resource cost; likewise we should ignore non-money returns arising from locational preferences.’ The noneconomic facets of people’s lives in the decision to move were not part of the cost-beneﬁt calculus. Economic motivations and income maximization drove migration trends. Places were important in the sense that they attract or repel people to produce resources for the larger economy. No attempt was made to understand why people live in places. The role of the physical environment and its major component, land, was dismissed, as was the social and cultural environment. This limited view of migration was soon to change as the role of nature and its environmental components, especially climate, became the means of incorporating a physical environment variable into statistical models. Perhaps the earliest statement of the importance of amenities in regional growth was a 1954 article by geographer Ullman. Studies in the 1960s...
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