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Articles by Robert Stavins

Robert N. Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, and Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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  • What explains the recent popularity of market-based environmental solutions?

    Despite the potential cost-effectiveness of market-based policy instruments like pollution taxes and tradable permits, conventional approaches — including design and uniform performance standards — have been the mainstay of U.S. environmental policy since before the first Earth Day in 1970. Gradually, however, the political process has become more receptive to innovative, market-based strategies. In the […]

  • Moving beyond vintage-differentiated regulation

    A common feature of many environmental policies in the United States is vintage-differentiated regulation (VDR), under which standards for regulated units are fixed in terms of the units’ respective dates of entry, with later vintages facing more stringent regulation. In the most common application, often referred to as “grandfathering,” units produced prior to a specific […]

  • Using markets to make fisheries sustainable

    Around the world, over-fishing is leading to severe depletion of valuable fisheries. This is as true in U.S. coastal waters as it is in many other parts of the world. In New England waters, for example, after two decades of ever more intensive fishing, the groundfish fishery has essentially collapsed. But, we are not alone. […]

  • Approach water management as an economic problem

    Throughout the United States, water management has been approached primarily as an engineering problem, rather than an economic one. Water supply managers are reluctant to use price increases as water conservation tools, instead relying on non-price demand management techniques, such as requirements for the adoption of specific technologies and restrictions on particular uses. In my […]