Alexander Pfaff

Alexander Pfaff


Director of Graduate Studies DGS), Environ Policy PhD program (UPEP)

Primary Appointment

School of Public Policy

Alex Pfaff is a Professor of Public Policy, Economics and Environment. Trained as an economist, he is focused on how the environment and natural resources, economic development, and a range of policies influence each other.

Research accessible at

He has studied: impacts on forests of protected areas, incentives, roads, railroads and concessions/certification (Brazil’s Amazon, Costa Rica, United States, Panama, Madagascar, Mexico, Peru, Cameroon, Bolivia); institutional responses to water shocks (Brazil’s Northeast, Colombia, Mexico); drivers of harmful exposures (groundwater arsenic in Bangladesh, stove emissions in China & Pakistan); and incentives for firms to self-audit and disclose (United States). This applied research aims to increase the chance that policies have their intended impacts upon not only the environment but also the people affected.

In The News


Alpízar, F, Nordén, A, Pfaff, A, and Robalino, J. "Spillovers from targeting of incentives: Exploring responses to being excluded (Accepted)." Journal of Economic Psychology 59 (April 1, 2017): 87-98.
Pfaff, A, Santiago-Ávila, F, and Joppa, L. "Evolving Protected-Area Impacts in Mexico: Political Shifts as Suggested by Impact Evaluations." Forests 8, no. 1 (January 2017): 17-17.
Mandle, L, Bryant, BP, Ruckelshaus, M, Geneletti, D, Kiesecker, JM, and Pfaff, A. "Entry Points for Considering Ecosystem Services within Infrastructure Planning: How to Integrate Conservation with Development in Order to Aid Them Both." Conservation Letters 9, no. 3 (May 2016): 221-227.
Baylis, K, Honey-Rosés, J, Börner, J, Corbera, E, Ezzine-de-Blas, D, Ferraro, PJ, Lapeyre, R, Persson, UM, Pfaff, A, and Wunder, S. "Mainstreaming Impact Evaluation in Nature Conservation." Conservation Letters 9, no. 1 (January 2016): 58-64.
Pfaff, A, Vélez, MA, Ramos, PA, and Molina, A. "Framed field experiment on resource scarcity & extraction: Path-dependent generosity within sequential water appropriation." Ecological Economics 120 (December 2015): 416-429.


PUBPOL 810: Microeconomics and Public Policy-Making (PUBPOL 810: Microeconomics and Public Policy-Making)
ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects (ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects)
PUBPOL 792: Special Readings in Public Policy Studies (PUBPOL 792: Special Readings in Public Policy Studies)
ENVIRON 579S: Collective Action, Environment, and Development (ENVIRON 579S: Collective Action, Environment, and Development)
PUBPOL 579S: Collective Action, Environment, and Development (PUBPOL 579S: Collective Action, Environment, and Development)

Contact Information

186 Rubenstein Hall, Box 90312
Durham, NC 27708


Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1995)
B.A., Yale University (1988)