David I. Stern

Current Research Interests

This page lists my current research interests. I am most interested in working with PhD students or potential collaborators on projects that relate to or build on these areas. I have research ongoing in each of these areas but don't describe current projects in detail usually until we are ready to post a working paper on the web and I won't write about areas that I am just beginning to think about. So, while this is more forward looking than a publications list, it's not that forward looking. You can find out much more about my already completed research on my blog.

Prospective PhD students: I am interested in supervising students who have strong mathematics skills and are interested in collaborating on projects in these and related areas. Please check the Crawford School's pages on the Economics PhD program and the application process.

Economic Growth:

Energy and Growth in the Long Run: I am collaborating with Jack Pezzey, Astrid Kander, Kerstin Enflo, Yingying Lu, and Akshay Shanker on understanding the role of energy in economic growth in the long-run - over one to several centuries. This involves time series econometrics and simulation and theoretical economic modelling to extend existing economic growth models to the long-run historical context. A couple of the questions that we want to answer: How much did increased availability of energy services contribute to economic growth? How can we model the transition from traditional biomass to coal use? Why has energy intensity declined over time in countries such as the US and Sweden? We already have three published papers on this topic: Stern and Kander (2012), Stern and Enflo (2013), and Kander and Stern (2014), and a recently released working paper that provides a theoretical model of the Industrial Revolution. This research was largely funded by an ARC Discovery grant (DP12) and we also won a grant from the Handelsbanken foundation in Sweden for continuing research on this topic.

Electricity and Growth: I am one of six theme leaders for a research consortium led by Catherine Wolfram at UC Berkeley and Oxford Policy Management on the topic of electricity and economic growth in low income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia funded by the UK Department for International Development. In the first year, I wrote a survey paper on the macroeconomics of electricity and growth with Paul Burke and Stephan Bruns, which should be available on the web soon. I am now working with masters students on electricity reliability and development.

Substitutability: A couple of my papers in recent years have synthesized the literature on elasticities of substitution and carried out a meta-analysis of the interfuel substitution literature. I am interested in getting better estimates of elasticities both by using new econometric techniques and meta-analysis. Analysis of the performance of different ways of estimating elasticities is also of interest. I have published a paper on this topic co-authored with Chunbo Ma using Chinese data. I am also interested in the role of substitutability in economic growth.

Energy Efficiency: I am the chief investigator on an ARC Discovery grant (DP16) on "Energy Efficiency Innovation, Diffusion and the Rebound Effect." Stephan Bruns and Alessio Moneta are partner investigators. Zsuzsanna Csereklyei joined us at ANU as a postdoctoral research fellow working on the grant. Zsuzsanna is working on the technology diffusion aspects, while Stephan and Alessio are collaborating with me on estimating the economy-wide rebound effect. Two papers from this theme are now online. The first looks at the effects of restructuring of the US electricity sector at investment in generation capacity, in particular higher efficiency technologies. The second discusses how well projections of energy intensity have matched reality. Based on my analysis, I think recent projections are over-optimistic about future reductions in energy intensity. This may be because models underestimate the strength of the economy-wide rebound effect.

Climate Change: I am interested in three areas of climate change research:

Trends and Drivers of Climate Change: This is the relationship between economic growth and development and emissions of greenhouse gases. I was a coauthor of a chapter on this topic in IPCC's 5th Assessment Report and I am also a co-editor of a collection of papers on this topic published by Elgar. My recent research in this area is summarized in a survey paper on the environmental Kuznets curve. Together with Reyer Gerlagh and Paul Burke, I developed a new alternative to the environmental Kuznets curve using long-run growth rates. Our paper analysing emissions of sulfur and carbon dioxide will be published in Environment and Development Economics. Using this method, I also wrote a paper with my former masters student Luis Sanchez on total greenhouse gas emissions, which was published in Ecological Economics. Together with masters student Jeremy van Dijk and visiting fellow Donglan Zha, I applied these methods to global (published in Climatic Change) and Chinese (published in Environmental Economics and Policy Studies) pollution concentrations, which I think have been insufficiently investigated in recent years. With Paul Burke and Muhammad Shahiduzzaman, I also published a paper in Global Environmental Change on the short-run relationship between growth and emissions following up on Richard York's finding that the emissions-income elasticity varies depending on whether the economy is growing or declining.

Costs of Climate Mitigation: I published a paper in 2012 on different ways of measuring the costs of emissions reductions. With Yingying Lu I carried out a sensitivity analysis using the G-Cubed CGE model to determine how various economic parameters affect mitigation costs, which has been published in Environmental and Resource Economics. This project also falls under the substitutability area above.

Econometric Modelling of Climate Change: In the past I have published several papers applying econometric time series methods to modelling the climate system and to testing the potential link between climate change and malaria. My most recent published paper on the topic, testing whether anthropogenic sources of radiative forcing cause climate change was written with Robert Kaufmann and was published in Climatic Change. Recently, I wrote a paper with Stephan Bruns and Zsuzsanna Csereklyei that focuses on the role of the ocean in climate change that we submitted to a special issue of the Journal of Econometrics on climate econometrics.

Research Assessment: I am interested in meta-analysis and citation analysis, both of which can be seen as forms of research assessment:

Meta-Analysis: In addition to the meta-analysis of the interfuel substitution literature mentioned above, we published a paper in the Energy Journal on the meta-analysis of the energy-GDP causality relationship. I have written a follow up paper with Stephan Bruns, which will be published in Empirical Economics on the econometric theory of the meta-analysis of studies using vector autoregression models. Together with Johannes Koenig, we have also carried out a replication and robustness check of my 1993 paper in Energy Economics for the special issue of Energy Economics on replication. We carry out a meta-analysis of the robustness checks. The general findings hold up for new data and different specifications in terms of what results in higher statistical significance, though the specifc findings about statistical significance do not.

Bibliometrics: I'm mainly interested in developing and applying bibliometric methods in economics and other social science or environmental areas. My paper in the Journal of Economic Literature presents confidence intervals for economics journals for impact factors and ranks. A comment in Scientometrics shows that the estimated confidence intervals are very different to those that would be estimated assuming citations have a Poisson distribution. My paper on whether citation analysis can be used in research assessment exercises in the social sciences was published in PLoS ONE. I wrote a follow up paper with Stephan Bruns on research assessment using early citation information that uses a more realistic research assessment set up, which has now been published in Scientometrics. With Bob Costanza and others, I published a paper that revisited our paper on influential publications in ecological economics a decade on to see how things had changed. I am now working with Richard Tol on a new citation metric for assessing individuals.

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Last updated on 21 November 2017
By David Stern