What are you currently working on in your research?
At the moment the core of my research focuses on understanding the value that people place on flood risk by looking at the housing market. The idea is that the price of a house reflects the value that people place on all its quality attributes including structural (e.g. number of rooms, square metres, number of bathrooms), locational (e.g. proximity to school or train station) and environmental (e.g. nice view, air pollution, noise pollution) characteristics. Flood risk is one of the characteristics attached to the location of a property. When people buy a house they implicitly trade flood risk in the market.
Is flood risk reflected in the price of houses? Is risk protection capitalised in house prices? How are the prices of flooded houses affected? Are prices of neighbouring properties also affected? These are some of the questions that my current research aims to answer for the UK in particular.
You can find the answer to the first question on a paper that has recently been published by my co-authors and myself in Ecological Economics titled “Is Flood Risk Capitalised into Property Values?”. In summary, the answer is yes! Houses in floodplains are about 5% cheaper. The size of the discount, however, depends largely on the type of risk and the flood history in the location of the house. The answer to the other questions will also be published soon, so stay tuned.
In recent years England has, along with many other countries, experienced a sequence of costly flood events. This trend is expected to worsen as a consequence of climate change and the construction of new developments in floodplains. This points to the importance of better understanding the true implications of flooding. My research aims to contribute to this discussion.
I am also increasingly getting involved in other exciting projects on topics related to renewable energy and the economic impacts of flooding and deforestation.
Finally, being from Latin America myself I have a natural interest in investigating the environmental challenges of the region. I am generally involved in research investigating the economic and distributional consequences of fiscal policy for climate change mitigation and the development of analytical tools to contribute to the design of a long-term strategy for climate change mitigation and adaptation in this region.
If you could give your younger student self some advice, what would it be?
I finished my PhD in 2016. During the last year, I have therefore experienced the transition from being a full-time student to a full-time member of the faculty here at the Department. Of course, being an academic full-time comes with many benefits, yet there are things I miss about being a student.
The advice I would give to my younger student self (either BSc, MSc or PhD) is to enjoy the present as much as you can. I used to worry quite a bit about the future. I would recommend students to keep focused on your goals, to work hard, and to trust in your own abilities. I believe that hard is always recompensed.
Meanwhile, travel more, laugh more and hang out more with your friends. Enjoy more sunsets, do more exercise, and take good care of your health. Most importantly, spend more time with your family. You still have a long way to go and soon you might find yourself living in a different country or even on a different continent with your family thousands of miles away. Keep smiling and do not forget to have fun along the way - there are exciting things for you to come!
While I always experienced my studies and my research as very enriching, life has many more facets which are worthwhile exploring. There is no better point in time than while studying towards a university degree to try out and experience new things, e.g. backpacking, a term abroad, or a summer internship are only a few of the many opportunities which arise for students here at LSE.
What is best about living and working in London?
There are many great things about living in London: musicals, festivals, green areas, artistic and cultural events etc. However, the best part about living in London for me is the rich multicultural exchange that I experience every day. I particularly enjoy teaching in a multicultural context where students bring different perspectives and backgrounds to the classroom.
I have always been impressed by the many languages that you can hear while walking on London’s streets or while using public transport. Of course, this daily cultural exchange results in the opportunity to learn from different cultures and to make friends from all over the world.
The diversity of London is also mirrored in the many restaurants bringing different tastes from across the globe to this city including some authentic Mexican cuisine! I believe this is the key aspect that makes London such a vibrant and unique city – its diversity.
Allan Beltran-Hernandez is LSE Fellow in Environmental Economics.