“Conservation Reconsidered,” an article written by the late Resources for the Future Senior Fellow John V. Krutilla and published in the American Economic Review in September 1967, was a groundbreaking work in the field of environmental and natural resource economics. Written before major US environmental laws were passed, the article made the economic case for a broader understanding of preservation and protection of natural environments—as opposed to exploitation of the natural resources they housed. It changed the way that economists viewed natural environments and ushered in a new era of research in the field of environmental economics.
On September 8, 2017, Resources for the Future held a conference to honor the 50th anniversary of this article, discuss new developments in the field since it was written, and lay out some current research and policy issues related to the article.
Watch the full video here or follow the links below to jump to specific segments.
Richard Newell, President and CEO, Resources for the Future
H. Spencer Banzhaf, Professor of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University
Professor Banzhaf provides a history lesson on the development of the field of environmental economics and the important turn it took in the 1960s, moving from analyses of resource extraction to problems of conservation. He summarizes much of what was provided in his Spring 2017 Resources article.
Margaret Walls, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
Dr. Walls provides a brief overview of the policy setting at the time of Krutilla's “Conservation Reconsidered,” how federal policy toward public lands and natural resources evolved, and the critical juncture at which the United States stands in 2017.
John List, Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, University of Chicago
Professor List takes us on a walk down memory lane, describing how he first studied the “Conservation Reconsidered” article. He then discusses the complex problem of existence values for natural amenities and describes an approach for reconciling values generated from stated preference/survey methods and revealed preference methods.
Erik Hurst, V. Duane Rath Professor of Economics and the John E. Jeuck Faculty Fellow, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Professor Hurst discusses how revealed preference approaches can be used to value the environment. He describes his research using panel data from time use surveys and the possibility for these data to inform environmental valuation.
Daron Acemoglu, Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics, MIT
In “Conservation Reconsidered,” Krutilla discussed the important role of “asymmetric” technological change and the values of the natural environment. Professor Acemoglu takes up this discussion of technological change in his remarks, with an emphasis on the need to incorporate endogenous technological change into models of climate change.
V. Kerry Smith, Emeritus Regents Professor, Arizona State University and University Fellow, Resources for the Future