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Spencer Banzhaf Unveils New Book: Pricing the Priceless

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In his newly published book, Pricing the Priceless, ARE Professor Spencer Banzhaf examines the history of the environmental movement, government planning and modern economics.

Cover of Pricing the Pricing the Priceless, featuring natural scene including boaters on a lake

“The book tells the story of how economics shifted from thinking about how to develop resources for producing material goods, to incentivizing the preservation of natural environments for more immaterial goals,” Banzhaf said.

Drawing on his extensive expertise, Banzhaf offers the first book-length study of the history of modern environmental economics, revealing the unexpected role economists played in crafting tools for environmental preservation. The book has earned acclaim from leaders in the field.

Harvard University’s Robert Stavins praised Banzhaf’s work, stating that it “portrays the nature, scope, and methods of economic analysis of environmental and natural resource issues through a decidedly historical lens, and thereby examines five decades of intellectual growth.”

“Whether you are an economist, a student of environmental economics, or a skeptic of the ability of economics to provide insights about these issues, you will benefit from reading this book,” he said.

Banzhaf headshot

Banzhaf, director of the Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy, has written several books on topics relating to environmental policy and economics. One common theme in his work is the interaction among local environmental quality, local real estate markets and the demographic composition of cities. His research has been published in the American Economic Review, History of Political Economy and Journal of Political Economy, among other places.

“In many ways, it seems I have been working on this book for 25 years, since my dissertation, though I wasn’t sure I had a book until maybe twelve years ago,” Banzhaf said. “It’s greatly improved my perspective on environmental policy and the ways economists can inform it.”