Resource Dependency and Sustainability in the United States
Thombs, Ryan P. “Resource Dependency and Sustainability in the United States”, Boston College, 2023. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:109802.
Recent research suggests that no country in the world meets its social needs in a sustainable manner. The U.S. is a prime example, as it has achieved a high standard of living but at a substantial cost to the environment. Although, research also suggests that subjective and objective measures of well-being are declining in the U.S. Thus, not only must the country reduce its emissions and environmental resource use, but it must also rethink its development strategy as well-being continues to deteriorate. However, these trends are not homogeneous as there are significant differences in ecological degradation and well-being across the states. What could explain these differences? Resource dependency, w¬hich refers to economic overspecialization in the extractive natural resource sector, offers a promising theoretical perspective to apply to this question. In my four-part dissertation, I explore whether and how resource dependency impacts sustainability-related measures in the U.S. Using state-level panel data, I assess the effects of resource dependency on the carbon-intensity of well-being, the renewable energy-fossil fuel nexus, and CO2 emissions in chapters two through four. In the fifth chapter, I describe three Stata commands (eiwb, xtasysum, and lreff) that I developed as part of my dissertation. Taken together, I show that resource dependency undermines environmental and social well-being outcomes in the U.S., but it does so in complex ways. I conclude by discussing the implications of my findings, this dissertation’s contributions to sociology and sustainability science, and paths for future research.