Zhiyun Jiang

Ph.D. Candidate

Job Market Paper

Impact of Smoke from Fires on Agriculture

With wildfires projected to substantially increase under climate change, there is growing interest in understanding their economic cost. While wildfires directly burn forests and homes, they also produce smoke that can cover wide areas and travel long distances, physiologically harming people and plants. These injuries have economic consequences. This paper provides the first national economic estimates of the impact of this smoke on the production of the two main U.S. cash crops: corn and soybeans. To do this, I link smoke plume maps derived from satellite images with county-level information on corn and soybean yields. A panel data approach is used to estimate exposure to smoke plumes treating their exact frequency, timing, and location in any year as exogenous shocks. This allows separation of smoke impacts from the better studied air pollutant impacts, which is important because, while pollution from vehicles and power plants is falling, that from smoke is increasing. Exposure to one more day of smoke, on average, reduces yields of corn and soybeans by 0.31% and 0.23%, respectively. Using these estimated yield response functions for policy purposes requires specific future smoke generation scenarios. To help put these results in an economic context for corn and soybeans, a 10% increase in smoke relative to 2019 results in an annual loss of almost $1 billion. Some climate change scenarios for 2050 involve considerable larger increases in U.S. smoke levels. If other U.S. agricultural production is equally sensitive to smoke and, if the findings reported here hold for other countries with wildfires, then total agricultural losses from likely increase in smoke over the next 30 years through 2050 are likely to be on order of several hundred billion dollars. The estimates provided here are likely to be of use in consideration of policies to reduce wildfires. As an example, I consider the debate over mechanical removal of fuel wood versus prescribed burning to reduce wildfire risks. Taking account of impacts of prescribed burning smoke on corn and soybean yields can shift the preferred option from a benefit-cost perspective.

Working Paper

The Role of Ridesharing in Changing Urban Trip Patterns

The Interaction Relation of Temperature and Precipitation with Outdoor Recreation

Work in Progress

How Do Consumers Respond to Water Quality Violations? (with Jackson Somers)