Karen Fisher-Vanden, Ph.D.

  • Director of Graduate Studies, EEFE
  • Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics
Karen Fisher-Vanden, Ph.D.
113 Armsby Building
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-867-2752

Areas of Expertise

  • Computable general equilibrium modeling
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation
  • Integrated assessment


  1. Ph.D., Harvard University, 1999


Research Interests

My areas of research include economic and integrated assessment modeling for climate change policy analysis; economic instruments for pollution control; and technology development in developing countries (in particular, China) and implications for energy use and carbon emissions. I am currently involved in a number of externally-funded research projects including: (1) Research in Integrated Assessment, Inter-Model Development, Testing and Diagnostics (joint with Stanford University); (2) an examination of the effects of foreign influence on technological development in China; and (3) the development of an improved model of endogenous technical change that captures uncertain R&D returns and climate response. 

Outreach/Extension Interests

I am currently a Lead Author of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report Working Group III, member of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Product Development Advisory Committee and am a lead author of a recent congressionally-mandated CCSP report on global change scenarios.  My research in China involves international research collaborations with colleagues at the National Bureau of Statistics in China and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Current/Recent Courses

  • ERRE 497A: Environmental Economics, Policy, and Management
  • AEREC 597B: Applied Computational Economics
  • AEREC/RSOC 590: Graduate Colloquium

Recent Selected Publications

Fisher-Vanden, K., E. Mansur, Q. Wang, 2015, "Electricity Shortages and Firm Productivity: Evidence from China's Industrial Firms," Journal of Development Economics, 114: 172-188.

Fisher-Vanden, K. and S. Olmstead, 2013, “Moving Pollution Trading from Air to Water:  Potential, Problems, and Prognosis,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(1): 147-172.

Fisher-Vanden, K. and K. Thorburn, 2011, “Voluntary Corporate Environmental Initiatives and Shareholder Wealth,” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 62: 430-445.

Fisher-Vanden, K. and M.S. Ho, 2010, "Technology, Development, and the Environment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management , 59: 94-108.

Fisher-Vanden, K., and G. Jefferson, 2008, “Technology Diversity and Development: Evidence from China’s Industrial Enterprises.”  Journal of Comparative Economics, 36(4):658-672.

Breetz, H. and K. Fisher-Vanden.  2007.  "Does Cost-Share Replicate Water Quality Trading Projects? Implications for a Partnership Between Cost-share and Water Quality Trading."  Review of Agricultural Economics , 29(2), 201-215.

Fisher-Vanden, K., and M.S. Ho. 2007.  “How Do Market Reforms Affect China’s Responsiveness to Environmental Policy?” Journal of Development Economics , 82, 200-233.

Breetz, H., Fisher-Vanden, K., Jacobs, H. and C. Schary, 2005, “Trust and Communication: Mechanisms for Increasing Farmers’ Participation in Water Quality Trading.” Land Economics, 81(2), 170-190.

Fisher-Vanden, K., G. Jefferson,  H. Liu, and Q. Tao, 2004 “What is Driving China’s Decline in Energy Intensity?”  Resource and Energy Economics , 26(1), 77-97.