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Wei Zhang

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The economic impacts of nature reserves have long been controversial. Some studies find that nature reserves impose economic burdens on local residents by limiting agricultural land use and exploitation of natural resources while other studies find that nature reserves could actually alleviate poverty. This thesis empirically examines the county-level economic impacts of national nature reserves (NNRs) in ten provinces in China, using a Difference-in-Differences approach. My results indicate that on average NNRs are associated with a 7% annual increase, 421 2010 yuan correspondingly, in per capita net income for farmers. In addition, the agricultural production value per capita in counties with NNRs is, on average, about 32% higher than that in counties without an NNR. There is also weak evidence for spill-over effects: local GDP per capita is positively correlated with the establishment of NNRs. These economic benefits associated with NNRs are likely to be explained by increased revenue from eco-tourism and forestry production.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.