Karen Fisher-Vanden, Ph.D.

Karen Fisher-Vanden, Ph.D.

  • Distinguished Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics and Public Policy;
  • Director, Program on Coupled Human and Earth Systems (PCHES);
  • President, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE)
110 Ferguson Building
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Economy-wide modeling
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation
  • Integrated assessment


  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 1999
  • M.S., UCLA, 1990
  • B.S. and B.A., UC Davis, 1985

Research Interests

My areas of research include economic and integrated assessment modeling for climate change impact and 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 co-Director of the Program on Coupled Human and Earth Systems (PCHES), a large Cooperative Research Agreement with the US Department of Energy. 

Outreach/Extension Interests

I am currently President of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE). I was a Lead Author of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report Working Group III, and a member of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Product Development Advisory Committee and lead author of a congressionally-mandated CCSP report on global change scenarios. I served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) and was a member of the EPA Science Advisory Board on Economy-wide modeling.  My research in China involved 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
  • EEFE 532: Applied Computational Economics
  • AEREC/RSOC 590: Graduate Colloquium
  • CED 432: Economic Analysis of Environmental and Resource Policies

Recent Selected Publications

Webster, M., K. Fisher-Vanden, I. Sue Wing, 2024, “The Economics of Power System Transitions,” Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, volume 18, number 1, winter 2024.

Webster, M., K. Fisher-Vanden, V. Kumar, R. Lammers, J. Perla, “Integrated hydrological, power system and economic modeling of climate impacts on electricity demand and cost.” Nature Energy, Jan 2022. DOI: 10.1038/s41560-021-00958-8. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-021-00958-8.

Rimsaite, R., K. Fisher-Vanden, S. Olmstead, D. Grogan, 2021, “How well do U.S. western water markets convey economic information?" Land Economics. 97(1): 1–16

Fisher-Vanden, K., J. Weyant, 2020, “The Evolution of Integrated Assessment: developing the next generation of use-inspired IA tools.” Annual Review of Resource Economics, 12:20.1-20.17, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-resource-110119-030314

Fan, Q., K. Fisher-Vanden, and A. Klaiber, 2018, “Climate Change, Migration, and Regional Economic Impacts in the US," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 5(3): 643-671.

Davlasheridze, M., K. Fisher-Vanden, A. Klaiber, 2017, “The Effects of Adaptation Measures on Hurricane Induced Property Losses," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 81:93-114.

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.