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Socioeconomic Factors

Introduction - Historical Overview - Socioeconomic Profile


To a large extent, resource management is the management of how people work and play. The restoration of natural environments has a significant human element. Projects are designed in response to human assessments of benefits and costs; they often include features that limit human action within the project area, and humans are called upon to fund their construction and maintenance.

Commercial, industrial, and recreational uses of the land and water resources in Providence.
Commercial, industrial, and recreational uses of the land and water resources in Providence.
Courtesy: NOAA

Recognizing the interconnection between the natural environment and socioeconomic factors has resulted in efforts to more fully integrate environmental considerations into economic analyses and to more fully integrate socioeconomic considerations into environmental decisions. Some economists seek to incorporate environmental factors into traditional economic analysis by making sure that prices reflect the full environmental costs of production and consumption using such tools as pollution taxes and green accounting. Ecological economics, which exists as an alternative to neoclassical environmental economics, distrusts market prices as indicators of environmental value. Instead, its practitioners seeks to socially construct answers to questions of sustainable development and the appropriate scale of economic activity (Loomis 2000).

Altered hydrology of the Blackstone River looking upstream at the base of Slater Mill
Altered hydrology of the Blackstone River looking upstream at the base of Slater Mill (upper left), Pawtucket.
Courtesy: NOAA

The socioeconomic information that follows is an attempt to synthesize relevant demographic, social, and economic data and to explain their relevance to resource management in general and environmental restoration in Rhode Island in particular. This information is designed to answer three fundamental questions: "Where are we?" "How did we get here?" and "Should we change?" The Historical Overview presents socioeconomic information that helps to answer the second of these questions. The Socioeconomic Profile focuses on the first question and the discussion of Benefit-Cost Analysis focuses on the last question. It is important to consider the socioeconomic information that helps to answer these questions, not only because the individuals and groups that are located in Rhode Island are the primary stakeholders in the state's ecological health and economic development, but also because they will ultimately be a determining factor for what restoration strategies will or will not succeed.

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Loomis, J.B. 2000. Can environmental economic valuation techniques aid ecological economics and wildlife conservation? Wildlife Society Bulletin 28(1):52-60.

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Project Partner web pages - RIHRT, CRMC, NBEP, STB

This site was created through a partnership of the:

Coastal Resources Management Council
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
Save The Bay®