Why economics matters for endangered species protection

Jason F. Shogren, John Tschirhart, Terry Anderson, Amy Whritenour Ando, Steven R. Beissinger, David Brookshire, Gardner M. Brown, Don Coursey, Robert Innes, Stephen M. Meyer, Stephan Polásky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We offer three reasons why economics matters more to species protection than many people think and what this implies for the ongoing debate over the reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Economics matters because (1) human behavior generally, and economic parameters in particular, help determine the degree of risk to a species; (2) in a world of scarce resources, the opportunity cost of species protection - the costs of reduced resources for other worthwhile causes - must be taken into account in decision making; and (3) economic incentives are critical in shaping human behavior, and consequently the recovery of species. Endangered species protection that explicitly addresses these basic principles can avoid wasting valuable resources that yield no gain in species protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1261
Number of pages5
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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