Invasive species impacts on human well-being using the life satisfaction index.
Invasive alien species are known to be disruptive to the natural environment and can lead to sharp reductions in environmental quality, thereby affecting social welfare. However, little is known about how subjective well-being, in particular, is impacted by invasive species. This is troubling because it precludes credible empirical considerations of the full-range of social externalities when setting invasive species management policy. To address this knowledge gap, this paper provides the first estimates of invasive species impacts on subjective well-being using the life satisfaction ("happiness") index. The approach is applied to the invasive emerald ash borer (EAB), a particularly virulent ash tree attacking pest in North America. Using a repeated cross-sectional fixed effects design, the impact of EAB detection on life satisfaction (LS) is estimated for individuals living in 189 counties in 15 US states over 2005-2011. Results suggest that after EAB detection, LS is reduced by 0.127 on a 4-point scale [95% CI: -0.002, -0.252]. The magnitude of impacts are greatest after a 5-year lag and are largest among young adults (18-24 years).