Date of Award

8-2012

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Resource Economics and Policy

Advisor

Mario F. Teisl

Second Committee Member

Caroline L. Noblet

Third Committee Member

Hsiang-Tai Cheng

Abstract

The state of Maine is home to the oldest median age in the United States (SPO, 2010b). With high levels of out-migration from the younger-working age cohorts and more in-migration from senior and retired-aged cohorts the state holds a unique composition of socio-demographic characteristics. In two applied studies, we suggest the presence of a diverging community vision for some of Maine's current affairs, and that it is in part due to this demographic split. Employing a common dataset, we demonstrate the influences behind individual choice in two diverse but relevant issues for current Maine politics: support for public deep-water wind power investments and private waste disposal behavior. Throughout this thesis we emphasize the role of Maine identity in an individual's private decision-making. We conceptually connect identity with an empirical measure of the percent of one's life spent in Maine. In the first analysis we identify the factors that explain an individuals' support for land-based wind power over deep-water offshore wind power in Maine. As public support is a factor in the success of a long-run investment, such as wind power innovation, we seek to understand how Maine residents view the two types of wind power development currently being implemented in their state: deep-water wind power and land-based wind power. A logistic model measures the factors that split support between those who most support land-based from those who most support deep-water offshore wind power. Our significant findings include a differentiation in the views of life-long residents versus those who have spent time living elsewhere. This division in wind power choice decreases as the level of education of life-long resident increases. Proximity to current or planned land-based wind farms did not indicate an aversion to land- based wind power, nor did previous sightings of land-based wind power. The second analysis evaluates a Maine resident's decision to recycle. With controversy surrounding landfill expansions and a recent shift in state waste management responsibilities within state agencies it is an ideal time for waste managers in Maine to reevaluate their service options and to encourage voluntary recycling behavior (Cunningham, 2012). Therefore we seek to identify the individual-level and municipal-level factors that contribute to recycling in Maine. We estimate several ordered logisitic models using a suite of individual characteristics, locational controls and policy incentives in a municipality to evaluate self-reported recycling behavior. Holding all other factors constant, the larger percentage of a person's life spent living in Maine the less likely they were to have a high level of recycling. Additionally, we found the availability of curbside waste pick-up, without a curbside recycling option was a significant adverse factor. Our individual-level regressions were then compared to the results of an ordinary least squares regression in which municipal-level recycling rate is made of a function of waste management incentives. In both types of model we found similar significance in the positive influence of single-stream recycling and population, while the presence of a price incentive on waste disposal did not show to significantly influence recycling behavior.

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