The Economic Value of the Coastal Zone

Michael I. Luger

DOI: 10.2190/KT54-E4DR-138Y-2EDE


This article provides a methodology for estimating the economic value of the coastal zone. That methodology is used to construct estimates of "GNP-originating" in the coastal zone, in aggregate, and as a percent of individual coastal states' and national Gross National Product (GNP). The results are quite dramatic: in 1985, GNP-originating in the coastal zone totalled approximately $1.5 trillion, or some 31 percent of U.S. GNP. The coastal zone has become more important over time. Coastal states vary, however, in their economic reliance on their coastal zones. Even when states' required matches are included, the ratio of federal Coastal Zone Management Act spending to coastal GNP is almost 1:2000. Given the fragility of the coastal environment and its considerable importance to the U.S. economy, those ratios seem quite favorable and tilt in favor of continued spending on coastal zone management programs.

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