Investigating the Economic Consequences of Atmospheric Nuclear Testing
AuthorMeyers, Keith Andrew
AdvisorFishback, Price V.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDuring the Cold War the United States detonated hundreds of atomic weapons at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). Many of these nuclear tests were conducted above ground and released tremendous amounts of radioactive pollution into the environment. The primary aim of this dissertation research is to answer empirical questions regarding the social costs of atmospheric nuclear testing. My research focuses on two broad areas: 1) how do economic agents respond to the adverse effects of environmental shocks, and 2) how does policy shape responses to said shocks. My studies combine data from a myriad of agricultural, environmental, and public health sources and rely upon clearly identified reduced-form models to estimate the social costs of NTS activities. The United States’ nuclear weapons testing program had much larger effects than previously known. I find that radioactive iodine generated from nuclear testing contributed to hundreds of thousands of excess deaths from 1951 to 1978. Increases in mortality rates due to fallout occurred throughout the entire country and that substantial damage occurred in places far from the region typically considered to be ``Downwind"" of the NTS. This radioactive material also harmed agricultural production and led to billions of dollars of lost output (2016$). Expanding upon these results, I use fallout measures to instrument for agricultural productivity and study how policy shapes agricultural producers’ responses to adverse productivity shocks. Fallout shocks allow me to measure how farmers respond to adverse productivity shocks when the cause of the shock is unobserved and unanticipated from the perspective of the agent.
Degree ProgramGraduate College