Justin Gallagher

Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics & Economics

Montana State University

My Primary research field is environmental economics, with a broad interest in household finance, labor economics, and public economics. The central theme of my research is investigating how individuals evaluate and respond to environmental risks.

Work in progress includes a project that examines how infrastructure externalities affect public investment decisions. The work is supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF grant 1638320.

In a recent paper, Paul Fisher and I test whether red light traffic cameras reduce vehicular accidents and improve public safety. We conclude that the traffic safety benefit of camera programs is much smaller than the consensus view in the existing transportation and engineering literatures. In the case of Houston program, our preferred estimates suggest that the change in social welfare from implementing the camera program was negative. More generally, our study highlights the challenge of using policy tools to deter crime in situations where potential offenders face multiple, offsetting risks. Read media coverage from Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences, Scientific American, Sound of Ideas (NPR, WCPN), and U.S. News & World Report. Here is the abstract:

Numerous cities have enacted electronic monitoring programs at traffic intersections in an effort to reduce the high number of vehicle accidents. The rationale is that the higher expected fines for running a red light will induce drivers to stop and lead to fewer cross-road collisions. However, the cameras also incentivize drivers to accept a greater accident risk from stopping. We evaluate the termination of a monitoring program via a voter referendum using 12 years of geocoded police accident data. We find that the cameras changed the composition of accidents, but no evidence of a reduction in total accidents or injuries.