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The Booming Socioeconomic Impacts of Shale: A Review of Findings and Methods in the Empirical Literature

Fleming, David and Komarek, Timothy and Partridge, Mark and Measham, Thomas (2015): The Booming Socioeconomic Impacts of Shale: A Review of Findings and Methods in the Empirical Literature.

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The U.S. shale boom has been joined by many other countries producing various unconventional fossil fuels (UFF) in the past decade. This new UFF industry differs from previous energy extraction by its rapid growth and sparse geographic nature, making the analysis of its socioeconomic consequences for extractive regions key for better regional planning and policy making. As such, the shale literature has boomed in recent years with numerous empirical studies evaluating and analysing different socioeconomic impacts from across the globe. This paper provides the first in-depth literature review of the growing body of empirical studies analysing the local impacts of shale (and other UFF) extraction, especially examining employment, income, population, housing, human and social capital effects and the co-existence of the industry with other productive activities. We find a quite surprising range of findings that in several occasions are contradictory, prompting more questions to many important issues. Given this broad range of results, we also focus on critical empirical considerations within this literature that are important to consider in future quantitative assessments of UFF impacts. Finally we provide some policy considerations and lines of future research.

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