Surfing a wave of economic growth

Vol: 
31/2017
Author name: 
McGregor T
Wills S
Year: 
2017
Month: 
April
Abstract: 

We investigate whether the geographic determinants of growth extend to natural amenities. We combine data on spatial and temporal variation in the quality of over 5000 surf breaks globally with data on local economic performance, proxied by night-time lights. We document a strong association between natural amenity quality and local economic development. Economic activity grows faster near good surf breaks; following the discovery of new breaks, or the technology needed to ride them; and during El Niño events that generate high-quality waves. The effects are concentrated in nearby towns and emerging economies, and population changes are consistent with tourism.

Publication file: 

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