Laura Taylor

Professor, School Chair

Member Of:
  • School of Economics
Office Location:
Old CE Building, Room 208
Related Links:

Overview

Dr. Taylor is Chair of the School of Economics at Georgia Tech.  Her research focuses on policy evaluation and the valuation of natural resources and the environment. Recent applications include improving benefits estimation for policies designed to reduce human mortality; examining household responses to water conservation policies; evaluating the benefits of hazardous waste site cleanup for neighboring communities, and evaluating the impact of offshore wind energy on coastal tourism. Her research has received funding from a variety of sources including the US EPA, USDA, US Department of Interior and the National Science Foundation.  Prior to joining the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2018, Dr. Taylor was Director of the Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy at North Carolina State University (2007-2018), and Associate Director of the Environmental Policy Program at Georgia State University (2001-20015).  She has held numerous advisory board positions and recently served as President of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (2017/2018).

Education:
  • Ph.D., North Carolina State University
  • M.A., Duke University
  • B.S., University of North Carolina at Asheville
Research Fields:
  • Environmental Economics
  • Policy Analysis
Courses Taught:
  • ECON-2106: Prin of Microeconomics
  • ECON-6380: Economic of Environment

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Randomized Safety Inspections and Risk Exposure on the Job: Quasi-experimental Estimates of the Value of a Statistical Life
    In: American Economic Journal [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: November 2019

    The value of a statistical life (VSL) is a critical driver of estimated benefits for federal policies designed to improve human health, safety, and environmental exposures. The vast majority of empirical evidence on the magnitude of the VSL arises from hedonic wage models that have been plagued by measurement error and omitted variables. To address these limitations, this paper employs randomly assigned workplace safety inspections to instrument for plant-level risks in a quasi-experimental design. We provide credible causal evidence for the existence of compensating wages for fatality risks and estimate a VSL between $(2016)8 million and $(2016)10 million.

    View All Details about Randomized Safety Inspections and Risk Exposure on the Job: Quasi-experimental Estimates of the Value of a Statistical Life

  • What’s in a Name? A Systematic Search for Alternatives to the VSL
    In: Review of Environmental Economics and Policy [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: 2019

    Benefit-cost analyses of environmental, health, and safety regulations often rely on an estimate of the “value of statistical life,” or VSL, to calculate the aggregate benefits of human mortality risk reductions in monetary terms. The VSL represents the marginal rate of substitution between mortality risk and money, and while well-understood by economists, to many non-economists, decision-makers, media professionals, and others, the term resembles obfuscated jargon bordering on the immoral. This paper describes a series of seven focus groups in which we applied a systematic approach for identifying and testing alternatives to the VSL terminology. Our objective was to identify a term that better communicates the VSL concept. Specifically, a list of 17 alternatives to the VSL term was developed and tested in focus groups that culminated in a formal ranking exercise. Using a round-robin tournament approach to analyze the data, and our qualitative judgments, we identify “value of reduced mortality risk” as the dominant replacement term among the alternatives tested.

    View All Details about What’s in a Name? A Systematic Search for Alternatives to the VSL

  • The Amenity Costs of Offshore Wind Farms: Evidence from a Choice Experiment
    In: Energy Economics [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: 2018

    We conduct a choice-experiment with individuals that recently rented a vacation property along the North Carolina coastline to assess the impacts of a utility-scale wind farm on their rental decisions. Visualizations were presented to survey respondents that varied both the number of turbines and their proximity to shore. Results indicate that there is not a scenario for which respondents would be willing to pay more to rent a home with turbines in view, as compared to the baseline view with no turbines in sight. Further, there is a substantial portion of the survey population that would change their vacation destination if wind farms were placed within visual range of the beach. The rental discounts required to attract the segment of the survey population most amenable to viewing wind farms still indicate that rental value losses of up to 10% are possible if a utility-scale wind farm is placed within 8 miles of shore.

    View All Details about The Amenity Costs of Offshore Wind Farms: Evidence from a Choice Experiment