Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

E. Jane Luzar


States implement many of the environmental laws enacted during the last thirty years. A key policy issue is the effect of differences in state institutions and environmental policies on the location of livestock agriculture. There is widespread belief that the stringency of state environmental regulations, known as regulatory climate, is an important factor influencing the location, growth and expansion decisions of livestock agriculture. Existing regulatory climate measures are not tailored to agriculture, and their use has given mixed results. Conceptual and empirical models were developed for the U.S. aquaculture industry, based on elements of public choice and firm location theories within an institutional economic framework. Because state regulatory climate is not directly observable, a summated scale measure of regulatory climate was designed, with four property rights conditions as underlying dimensions. Exploratory factor analysis and structural equations modeling were used to determine the scale's structure, which consisted of nine items in three subscales, representing the ownership, specification and transferability property rights conditions. The enforcement condition was subsumed within the other three subscales. The results demonstrated that property rights conditions can be useful as analytical tools in empirical analysis. Two alternative forms of the regulatory climate scale were devised, a continuous 0-18 scale and a five-category ordinal scale. They served as the dependent variables in two-limit truncated regression and ordered probit analyses. Key state institutional characteristics served as explanatory variables. Primary data were obtained from two national surveys of state aquaculture contacts and coordinators. Estimation results suggest that establishing a formal state aquaculture development plan and transferring regulatory enforcement authority to state departments of agriculture will have significant, negative effects on regulatory stringency. Joint administration or enforcement adds a bureaucratic layer and increases regulatory stringency. The regulatory climate scale was also used to compare states' regulatory climate toward aquaculture, by fish category. In the future, the scale can be used to evaluate the effect of institutional changes over time. The items in the scale appear to be applicable to other forms of alternative livestock, and may form the basis for a more general property rights based regulatory climate scale with broad applications.