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The Antiquities Act, National Monuments, and the Regional Economy

Thursday, October 18 | 1:00 to 2:30 pm | Toyota Auditorium

Dr. Paul Jakus  is a Professor in the Department of Applied Economics at Utah State University.



President Donald Trump recently reduced the size of two national monuments, siding with those who claim that large monuments harm local economies by restricting economic development of primary commodities. Others have asserted that large monuments aid economic growth by fostering tourism. In this study, we use a synthetic control approach to measure the average causal effect of nine national monument designations on county-level per capita income. We find no evidence that monument designation affected per capita income in any of 20 counties hosting nine large (>50,000 acres) national monuments established under the Antiquities Act (six monuments) or by legislative action (three monuments). The broad economic claims of both advocates and critics of large national monuments have little empirical support. The absence of a designation effect can be explained partly by the nature of federal land and its management, and physical and legal constraints.

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