Friday, January 13, 2012

An East Coast Trip

Early next week, I fly to Duke and Washington D.C.  At Duke, I will see my old friends and hopefully make some new ones.   Duke has built up an excellent set of environmental economists and I'm eager to speak there. I will be talking broadly about my recent energy demand work but then I will focus on my Nudge paper with Costa.  When I speak at the World Bank, I will serve up some "big think".   Here is a preview;

BBL Sponsored by the Urban Environment and Climate Change Thematic Group
at the Urban Development and Local Government Anchor 

LIC Urban Growth During a Time of
Climate Change Adaptation:
Policy Challenges and Opportunities

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
12.30 pm – 2:00 pm
Room J B1-075
World Bank Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

ChairAbha Joshi-Ghani
Sector Manager, FEUUR

Matthew Kahn
Professor, Institute of the Environment and SustainabilityDepartment of Public Policy, Department of Economics, UCLA
As world greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, more cities will grapple with the challenge of climate change. While the specific threats will vary by city and will emerge over time, today we can anticipate several of these challenges. Development banks with their human capital and financial resources are in a unique position to aid LIC (Low Income Countries) cities in providing public goods and attempting to mitigate urban externalities. Climate change will further increase the demands that such cities place on the development banks.

As LIC nations urbanize, within a system of cities, new urbanites will have many choices over where to live. While individual migrants will seek out the cities and communities that maximize their own private well being, do such individual choices lower society's overall well being?  If yes, what can development banks do to encourage "better" urban growth patterns?

Development banks are more likely to improve quality of life in developing countries if their staff can anticipate the consequences that well meaning policies are likely to have.   Matthew Kahn, a Professor of Economics at UCLA, and the author of the free markets book Climatopolis (2010 Basic Books) will lead a discussion focused on the unintended consequences of urban adaptation efforts.  To provide one example, engineering efforts intended to fortify cities and protect the populace from natural disaster risk can attract more people to live in the city and thus displace private self protection efforts.  

Kahn will discuss an empirical research agenda to assess the quantitative importance of such arguments.

Matthew E. Kahn is a Professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment, the Department of Economics, and the Department of Public Policy. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Before joining the UCLA faculty in January 2007, he taught at Columbia and the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He has served as a Visiting Professor at Harvard and Stanford. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago. He is the author of Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment (Brookings Institution Press 2006), of Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Futureand the co-author of Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War (Princeton University Press 2009). His research focuses on  environmental, urban, real estate and energy economics.