Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Economics

Committee Chair

Derek Kellenberg

Commitee Members

Douglas Dalenberg, Wayne Freidmund


Economic Growth, Quasi-Experiment, Wild and Scenic Rivers


University of Montana


The main objective of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 is to preserve the free-flowing nature and outstanding remarkable values of our nation’s rivers. There have been a total of 203 rivers designated in 38 states, yet despite the wide application, little is known about the impact these designations have on regional economic growth. Exploiting a unique panel dataset of 3,034 counties from 1970-2009, I construct a treatment and control group by employing the propensity score nearest-neighbor method. I apply a two-way fixed effects model to estimate the average treatment effect on the treated counties. The model is able to explain the variation in 5 year annualized per capita income growth relatively well and indicates that, on average, the Wild and Scenic River designation has a negative and statistically significant impact of 0.3 percentage points on county level per capita income growth. However, the results also indicate that these impacts may be offset by relatively small changes in the socioeconomic composition and presence of particular industries in a county.



© Copyright 2012 Gunnar Malm