Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Resource Economics & Management

Committee Chair

Xiaoli L. Etienne

Committee Member

Alan R. Collins

Committee Member

Victor K. Chow

Committee Member

Ana Claudia Sant'Anna


This dissertation examines three empirical issues in energy and agricultural economics using econometrics models whose titles are: 1) Do Natural Hazards in the Gulf Coast Still Matter for State-Level Natural Gas Prices in the US? Evidence After the Shale Gas Boom; 2) Do Exploitations of Marcellus and Utica Shale Formations Improve Regional Economy in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia? A Synthetic Control Analysis; and 3) How Did Covid-19 Impact US Household Food Spending? An Analysis Six Months In.

The first essay assesses the impact of natural hazards on state-level natural gas prices and evaluates the effects of the shale gas boom on the hazard-price relationship. Property losses due to natural hazards in Texas and Louisiana are used to represent supply shocks in US natural gas market from the Gulf area. Panel distributed lag models are applied to a state-level panel data set from 1995 to 2016. Estimation results show that natural gas prices in both importing and exporting states have become less responsive to natural hazards in Texas, but more sensitive to hazard events in Louisiana since the shale boom. These results are robust to the break dates used, the geographical location of states considered, and the empirical specifications employed. The increasing importance of Louisiana in natural gas pricing is perhaps due to its role as the benchmark pricing location for US natural gas and its expansive pipeline networks.

The second essay examines the impact of shale gas development on various economic outcomes in three Appalachian states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Four key economic indicators (poverty rate, population growth, employment growth, and income per capita growth) are considered. Estimation results obtained from the synthetic control method using 2002-2017 data are mixed. The shale development decreased the poverty rate and increased the employment growth rate in Pennsylvania and West Virginia in the short-run (2010 to 2013). In West Virginia, shale development also increased personal income per capita growth in the short run. However, most of the positive impacts disappeared or turned negative in the later post-boom period (2014 to 2017). The shale development did not bring significant economic benefits to Ohio. Nonetheless, shale development exerts a potential long-term negative effect on population growth in all three states.

The third essay exploits a nationwide survey of primary grocery shoppers to estimate the impact of Covid-19 on household spending behavior. The survey was conducted in August 2020 when the economy had partially reopened in many areas of the country and consumers had different spending opportunities compared to when the Covid-19 lockdown began. Various sociodemographic information such as household income, age, Covid-19 severity level, access to grocery stores, and farmers markets were collected. Findings based on ordered Probit models show that food insecurity problems impacted middle-class households (those with income below $50,000 and those with income between $50,000 and $99,999). Households with children and/or the elderly (i.e., those that usually require higher food quality and nutrition intakes) had a higher probability of increasing their spending during Covid-19 than before. Furthermore, consumers’ food safety practice levels and the Covid-19 severity level within the country of their residences significantly affected their overall food grocery and local produce shopping behaviors.