Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Economics

Document Type



Coastal communities are highly sensitive to disturbances from tropical storms and hurricanes. This is particularly true in Louisiana and along the U.S. Gulf Coast where economies are largely dependent on tourism and natural resource based industry. Since Hurricane Katrina and, more recently, Hurricane Sandy, there has been an increase in concern for how coastal communities will mitigate and respond to the impacts of coastal storms. These concerns are made more acute by the increasing population concentrated along the coast and the risk of more frequent and more severe coastal storms in the future. A commonly advocated-for method of storm damage mitigation is wetland preservation and restoration. This research explores the extent to which wetlands attenuate damages from coastal storms in Louisiana from 1997-2008. Using factor analysis, the relationships between wetlands, storm events and coastal populations are explored. The factor analysis suggests that wetland presence is associated with a reduction in economic damages from coastal storms. The results also demonstrate a distinct negative association between the degree of relative estuarine wetland coverage and the degree of economic risk present, illustrating the trade-off between development and conservation. Additionally, factor scores are computed to examine the extent to which wetlands reduce damages according to storm intensity. Representative storms are presented as case-studies to illustrate the result that wetlands may not be a suitable measure of protection against stronger storms. The value of the storm protection provided by wetlands is discussed in monetary terms and economic considerations are highlighted. Finally, limitations and consideration regarding the specifications of the model are discussed and future research areas are highlighted.



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Committee Chair

Westra, John V