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COVID-19 Effects on National Parks and Recreation

AAEA member recent research article in AEPP

In the post-war period of the 1940s, visitation to US national parks and recreational parks was on the rise, reaching a peak of 75 million in the 1990s. Fast forward to March of 2020: COVID-19 sweeps the globe, and park visitation comes to a screetching halt. The Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument are two examples of iconic landmarks that had a complete shut down.

In the recent article “How has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Outdoor Recreation in the U.S.? A Revealed Preference Approach”, Craig Landry, John Bergstrom, John Salazar, and Dylan Turner from the University of Georgia, seek to understand how the pandemic affected the quantity and value of trips to the public outdoor recreation areas in the United States.

The authors say, “Our results indicate an approximately 26% reduction in trips per participant to public outdoor recreation sites post-COVID-19, as compared to pre-COVID-19 trips.  Our results also showed a decrease in annual consumer surplus per outdoor recreation participant of about 19% (averaged across all models) or 26% (for preferred model), which can be attributed to post-COVID-19 reductions in site quality, perceived risks, and time-use substitution patterns.”

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ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

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