Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Economics

Committee Chair(s)

Eric C. Edwards


Ryan Bosworth


Reza Oladi


Kynda Curtis


Joanna Endter-Wada


This dissertation explores how property rights to a natural resource affect economic decisions for investment or sale, and how these decisions may in turn impact other areas of the economy. The first essay focuses on how incomplete land ownership on Indian Reservations in the United States affects landowner incentives to engage in agricultural production. The second essay explores how the transfer of water in arid regions via water right sales affects local labor markets and environmental outcomes. The third essay seeks to understand how shale-gas drilling has affected organic food production. This dissertation provides several policy implications. First, the findings suggest that the key to improving lagging agricultural development on American Indian land is to improve tribal farmers’ access to capital, so they can invest in agricultural systems (including irrigation) at the level of their neighbors enjoying fee-simple title. Second, while a potentially effective solution to reduce costly water shortfalls among high-value urban users, water sales from agricultural to urban users appear to simultaneously decrease employment and environmental quality in the water exporting region. Third, Drilling activities appear to discourage organic farming in Colorado. While farmers with mineral ownership benefit, identifying the direct causes of lost organic certification can inform policy that regulates negative externalities on organic farms caused by drilling.



Included in

Economics Commons