Evaluating natural resource amenities in a human life expectancy production function
Author: Poudyal, Neelam C.; Hodges, Donald G.; Bowker, J.M.; Cordell, H.K.
Source: Forest Policy and Economics, 11(4): 253-259.
This study examined the effect of natural resource amenities on human life expectancy. Extending the
existing model of the life expectancy production function, and correcting for spatial dependence, we
evaluated the determinants of life expectancy using county level data. Results indicate that after controlling
for socio-demographic and economic factors, medical facilities and risk factors, counties with natural
amenities such as high proportion of land in forests, farmland, rangeland and water bodies, as well as mild
climate such as longer sunlight hours during winter and cooler year around temperature exhibited longer life
expectancies at birth. In addition, counties containing state parks and outdoor recreation facilities, and those
located near federal wilderness parks were associated with the longer expectancies at birth. Findings from
this study have several implications for natural resource economics and management, public health, and
human development. An important message of our findings is that the traditional approach of public health
should be extended beyond just controlling diseases or treating patients to a more comprehensive approach
that also acknowledges the preservation and utilization of natural resources, environmental amenities, and
outdoor recreation opportunities in maintaining public health, quality of life, and overall human
Keywords: life expectancy, natural resource amenities, spatial error model, production function, public health
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Poudyal, Neelam C.; Hodges, Donald G.; Bowker, J.M.; Cordell, H.K. 2009. Evaluating natural resource amenities in a human life expectancy production function. Forest Policy and Economics, 11(4): 253-259.
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