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Five-year Achievement Award Winner Dr. Craig Landry

CRAIG LANDRY: Gaining a better understanding

A faculty member at ECU since 2004, Dr. Craig Landry’s research focuses primarily on environmental and natural resource economics, non-market valuation, experimental economics, and coastal resource management.

He is associate professor of economics in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, assistant scientist for the Institute for Coastal Science & Policy, and assistant director for the Center for Natural Hazards Research. He is also an affiliate faculty member for the Center for Sustainable Tourism.

Landry has secured nine external grants in the past eight years, including funding from the National Science Foundation, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the North Carolina Energy Center, and N.C. Sea Grant.

External grant projects have focused on determinants of disaster migration and preference for rebuilding New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the impact of coastal wind farms on recreation and tourism, economic impact and value of the North Carolina for-hire recreational fishing fleet, individual risk perceptions and behavior in the context of tropical storms, and economic values for coastal erosion management, while bringing in over $650,000 in funding directly to ECU.

He has published more than 25 peer-reviewed publications on varying topics, including individual decision-making in the context of natural hazards risk, recreation demand, econometrics of non-market valuation, property price models, community hazard mitigation and experimental analysis of individual charitable giving. 

He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in environmental economics and natural resource management from the University of Georgia in 1996 and 1998. While at UGA, he became interested in economic analysis of coastal erosion management and worked as research assistant on a FEMA-funded project to examine the impact of coastal erosion on the National Flood Insurance Program. He earned his doctorate in natural resource economics from the University of Maryland in 2004.

Landry spoke with ECU News Services about his research.

Q: How would you describe your area of research? What are environmental and natural resources economics?

Environmental and natural resource economics applies principles of economics to aspects of environmental quality and natural resource management. The use of tradable pollution permits and taxes to improve environmental quality at lower monetary costs is a major contribution of environmental economics, while natural resource economics has proposed similar approaches to the management of resources like fisheries.

My areas of expertise include non-market valuation, experimental economics, individual and community decision-making under risk and uncertainty and applied econometrics. Non-market valuation is an area of research that attempts to estimate the economic value of goods and services (such as water quality, air quality, proximity to amenities and presence of risks) that are not traded in conventional markets; these values are used prominently in cost-benefit analysis of resource management projects. 

Experimental economics involves systematic generation of data on decision making with greater control over decision parameters and salient (usually monetary) incentives. Decision-making under risk and uncertainty is theoretically based empirical analysis of behavior under risk, with my focus on risk of flooding, storm, and erosion; this type of analysis helps us understand the determinants of self-protecting behavior and assess the efficacy of existing and potential protective institutions and programs (like insurance, information, mitigation funding, technical assistance, etc.)

Q: A lot of your work has been about coastal housing and flooding. North Carolina would appear to be a great place to be based for that.

North Carolina’s coast is an excellent laboratory for exploring the relationship between development, housing values, coastal amenities and risk. I have shared some of the results with local governments on the Outer Banks.

Q: What research are you conducting now?

I just received two grants, one from Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that will focus on economic values of beach replenishment. This project will fund a Coastal Resources Management PhD student for two years. (US Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management: “Welfare Economics of Beach Nourishment Projects Using OCS Sand Resources;” Landry, principal investigator; $215,000, $150,000 to ECU).

I also received an N.C. Sea Grant project to examine economic values of coastal erosion management focusing on not only beach replenishment, but also shoreline armoring and coastal retreat. (North Carolina Sea Grant: “Economic Values of Coastal Erosion Management;” Landry, principal investigator with John Whitehead; $129,035, $77,448 from sponsor, $59,778 to ECU).

Q: What drew you to this type of economics? What interested you as a graduate student and keeps you still interested today in the area?

I was initially interested in ecology, but I realized that you have to understand people and their behavior if you want to affect the quality of the environment or how natural resources are managed. I am passionate about the economic approach to analyzing individual behavior, but enthusiastic about incorporating information from other disciplines (psychology, sociology, recreation and leisure studies, planning, management and natural sciences) to gain a better understanding of the ramifications of individual and group behavior in the context of social, economic, and political institutions for environmental and natural resource quality and sustainability.

--- Jeannine Manning Hutson

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