Adam E. Theising
I am an environmental economist employed by the US EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics.
I maintain this website for personal research and data science work. (Any views herein are mine and not necessarily those of my employer.)
Personal-wise: When not working in front of a screen, you'll find me outside.
Email: theising.adam [at] epa.gov  /
Tele: 202 _ 564 _ 2606
Using urban migration flows to infer nonmarket amenity value (draft available on request)
A. Theising, D. Phaneuf, R&R @ JAERE, 2020.
Economists often use a household’s residential location as a revealed preference for place. This paper studies what a household’s previous location — their residence during the migration decision — can add to our understanding of tastes for regionally-varying environmental amenities. We show evidence of heterogeneous migration propensities across space, and find a correlation between the “stickiness” of a place and its quality of life. This motivates our development and estimation of a generalized national-level sorting model that accommodates heterogeneity in migration costs across origins. Our demand framework uses structure similar to gravity models of migration. We leverage this structure to identify our key parameters from variation in spatial differences of migration flows across origins and destinations. As a result, this model exists in a single temporal cross-section; notably, our flow approach produces credible estimates without relying on temporal variation. In our empirical application, we estimate our model on a national sample of US households who sort amongst metropolitan statistical areas, and report marginal willingness to pay values for climate amenities and air quality.
What types of information make airborne lead pollution salient to homeowners and who does it cost? National evidence from US airports (draft available on request)
A. Theising, 2021.
While the US Environmental Protection Agency phased out use of leaded gasoline prior to the year 2000, an exemption for aviation gasoline remains in place to date. Leaded avgas's use is widespread -- around 500,000 gallons/day in the US -- and its pollution is centralized at thousands of airports. Starting from the premise that noise pollution is the salient disamenity associated with residing near airports, I study how information shocks about the risks from leaded avgas affect housing prices in the vicinity of over 1000 US general aviation airports. I find little evidence that local prices respond to (i) substantial changes in EPA ambient lead
standards, (ii) revisions to airport air quality monitoring requirements, (iii) litigation-mandated local disclosure letters, or (iv) variations in local lead emission levels from aviation traffic. I do find strong initial price responses following reported violations of ambient lead standards,
consistent with an immediate, short-run change in risk perceptions. I tie these findings to the environmental justice literature by studying neighborhood demographic compositions in lower-
and higher-information time periods. When less information about lead risk is available, I find that neighborhoods within 1000m of an airport, especially those downwind, have higher percent-
ages of minority inhabitants, lower median incomes, and a less educated populace. Following the release of new information, demographic changes align with a sorting narrative: neighborhoods
within 1km of an airport in violation of ambient lead standards see a decline in the population of children under age ten, a shift in racial demographics, and a further decline in median income.
Lead pipes, prescriptive policy, and property values
A. Theising, Env Res Econ, 2019.
Several recent incidences of severe waterborne lead exposure have public authorities and communities across the US rethinking their strategies to address aging water infrastructure. One common question: who should pay for updates? This paper provides evidence of positive property value capitalization effects following remediation of private lead service lines in Madison, WI. Using a 16-year panel of property transactions data and a universal and prescriptive policy change, I identify an average post-replacement price effect on the order of 3–4% of a property’s value. This implies a more than 75% average return on public and private remediation costs, suggesting homeowners strongly value the benefits of lead reduction in publicly supplied drinking water.
Some projects in progress: inferring amenity perception and preferences from a survey of recent movers; water quality and rec demand
R package development
EJSCREENbatch (w/ AR El-Khattabi and Morgan Teachey): To streamline initial EJ analysis efforts over multiple locations of interest, particularly water-based locations, the EJSCREENbatch R package was developed to leverage the national demographic, environmental, and hydrological datasets made available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.