Assistant Professor, Economics
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2011
M.A., University of Chicago, 2003
B.A., Middlebury College, 1999
Justin Gallagher, PhD, received his bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College, his master’s degree in public policy from the Harris School at the University of Chicago, and his doctorate in economics from the University of California-Berkeley. His research interests are in environmental economics and applied microeconomics. Recently, Dr. Gallagher and co-author studied the local welfare impact of the cleanup of large hazardous waste land sites in the U.S., using the housing market in neighboring communities to measure housing price changes before and after Superfund-sponsored cleanups. The study looks at waste sites of comparable severity, some of which have been slated for cleanup as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, and some of which have not. Gallagher and co-author discovered that Superfund-sponsored cleanups are associated with small changes in housing prices and demographics in the surrounding area, and suggests that the local economic benefits of Superfund cleanups are substantially lower than the cost of the cleanups.
In his current research, Gallagher examines the learning process that individuals use to update their expectation of an uncertain and infrequently observed event, specifically, in this case, flooding. Gallagher has found that after a large regional flood, a sharp spike in the number of homeowners who purchase flood insurance occurs, but that this persists only for a short time. In fact, 10 years after a flood, there is no longer evidence that the earlier flood is associated with a higher number of flood insurance policies. The study concludes that a model of individual learning about risk that allows for homeowners to forget is consistent with observed flood-insurance purchasing behavior.