Jeffords, Thompson, and IUP Alumnus Gwinn (2018) Publish Paper on Environmental Concern in the US

Posted on 7/5/2019 11:58:04 AM

Chris Jeffords, Alexi Thompson, and IUP alumnus Jordan Gwinn (Economics, 2018) recently published a paper exploring the links between state-level economic growth and search intensity related to environmental issues and concerns. The paper is currently available online and will be in a future print edition of Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences.

With the help of funding from a 2017 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Special Projects Grant, this paper is the culmination of research completed by Jeffords, Thompson, and Gwinn over the past two years. After graduating in 2018, Gwinn joined a cohort of graduate students at the University of Colorado–Denver to pursue his MA degree in economics. 

The abstract of the paper follows:

Google Trends data are correlated with income per capita at the state-level to examine the relationship between search intensity related to environmental issues and economic growth.

Depending on the search term or topic and if said term or topic is measured in nominal or real terms, a simple cross-section regression yields an inverted-U shaped relationship between the two. Over a relatively lower range of income, search intensity is positively correlated to economic growth but, after a certain threshold income level is reached, further economic growth is negatively correlated with search intensity. The results hold when controlling for education rates, unemployment rates, and presidential voting patterns within a state.

Our results imply that individuals within relatively poorer states tend to seek out information about the natural environment with greater frequency than individuals within relatively richer states, and perhaps for a few different reasons. We discuss the implications of these results within the context of the limitations of the data.

Department of Economics