Why Economics at HRI?

The Gulf of Mexico region provides many benefits to humans, including food and water, timber and fuel, opportunities to recreate, protection against storms and flooding, and water purification. It is however a finite resource and yet, we are asking more of it each passing year. 


Economics is the study of how humankind allocates its scarce resources given its unlimited wants. Increasing populations along the coasts as well as inland, climate change, and economic uncertainty lead to increased pressure on our natural resources. Thus, economics provides tools to address the issue of conservation and sustainable growth in the Gulf of Mexico region.



Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of Mexico

Humans benefit from a variety of products and services provided by ecosystems. These resources are known as ecosystem services (ES) and include products like fresh drinking water and services like storm surge protection. 

Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems rapidly, mostly to meet fast growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, and fuel. These changes have created net gains for human well-being and economic development, but they have also degraded many ecosystem services.
The challenge now is to halt and then reverse the degradation of ecosystem services while meeting the needs of a growing population.


Texas Coasr 


Socio-Economics Group

Our group seeks to make the connection between the natural environment and human well-being that will translate into better decision-making regarding our natural assets.
Special emphasis is placed on inventorying, mapping, and valuing ecosystem services in the coastal zone of the Gulf of Mexico and in assessing the economic impacts of climate change. 


Socio-Economics Group Short-Term Goals

  • Develop a Gulf wide network of economists and other social scientists.
  • Create the Ecosystem Services Valuation Database for the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Educate policy-makers, business, and the general public on the importance of integrating economics of the environment into the decision-making process.



The Socio-Economics Group