Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Agricultural and Resource Economics

Committee Chair

Alan R. Collins

Committee Co-Chair

Randall W. Jackson

Committee Member

Randall W. Jackson

Committee Member

Daniel S. Grossman

Committee Member

Donald J. Lacombe

Committee Member

Michael P. Strager


Spatial interaction and the locational structure between observations have recently gained more attention in the field of econometrics for both cross-sectional and panel data analyses. Compared to a non-spatial economic model, a spatial model relaxes the assumption of independency in observations. This research will apply spatial econometrics modeling in three different fields in applied economics: 1) water charge and minimum monthly access charge in West Virginia municipalities, 2) Naloxone access law and opioid overdose deaths among the U.S. states, and 3) ��2.5 concentrations and asthma hospitalizations in Pennsylvania counties. Based on the nature of water resource imposing spillovers in water charge model is inevitable, likewise Naloxone law and ��2.5 concentrations. We expect to see a significant spillover effects in water charge and minimum water access charge as well as Naloxone law and asthma prevalence among observations. In Chapter 2, we apply linear and log-log functional forms plus spatial econometric analyses to a 2014 dataset of 125 municipal water utilities in West Virginia to investigate the determinants of charges for water use and access. The water charges models are consistent with the theory of water cost determination as water source, debt, and economies of size and scale influence what consumers pay for water. Based on model results, groundwater use by utilities is estimated to save household customers in West Virginia over $12.6 million annually. The results for the spatial model indicate that there are moderate spillover effects for both water and minimum access charges among utilities. West Virginia households using municipal water typically pay far below the OECD standard of 3% to 5% of household income which may explain why socioeconomic factors do not influence monthly minimum charges. A manuscript based on this essay is accepted for the publication for in the journal, Water Economics & Policy. Chapter 3 contains an essay examining naloxone access laws. Opioid overdose is the leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S. Naloxone is a medicine that reverses the overdose. The second essay investigates the effects of Naloxone access laws on opioid overdose death rates. Analyses reveal that when broken down by access law provisions, there exist positive effects on overdose death rates depending upon the provision. The results indicate that Naloxone access provisions have regional impacts by influencing overdose death rates in neighboring states. Looking across multiple provisions, our findings provide no statistical evidence that these laws reduce opioid overdose death rates. This essay has been published in the Review of Regional Studies. Finally, Chapter 4 is an essay relating ��2.5 concentrations and asthma hospitalization across Pennsylvania counties. Ambient air pollution adversely impacts human health. According to the World Health Organization, 235 million people around the world currently suffer from asthma, which includes approximately 25 million in the United States. There is substantial epidemiological evidence linking outdoor air pollution and asthma symptoms, more specifically particulate matter concentrations and asthma. Based upon county level data from 2001-2014, a spatial panel framework based upon prevailing wind patterns is used to investigate the direct and indirect impacts of PM2.5 concentration levels on asthma hospitalization rates in Pennsylvania. This model controls for population density, precipitation, per capita income, and smoking rate. Results show that PM2.5 concentrations have both positive direct and indirect effects on asthma hospitalization rates. Varying with county population size, a one ��/�� increase in PM2.5 will add asthma hospitalization costs between $3.1M (Philadelphia County) and $37,732 (Cameron County). This study highlights the need for a more accurate impact analysis of ambient air pollution on asthma that reflects the impacts on neighboring regions as well. A one ��/�� increase in PM2.5 concentrations throughout all counties in Pennsylvania raises the number of annual asthma hospitalizations by over 1,200, with 26.8% of this increase occurring due to spillover effects. In the case of asthma hospitalization rates from PM2.5 pollution, an appropriate wind direction algorithm is important to identify spillover effects across counties. This essay has been under review in the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policies.