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Eric Nævdal

Research Associate (STEP 2003-2005)

I have done research on economic instruments in the regulation of sulphur emissions, the political economy of environmental pressure groups and the economic regulation of eutrophication.

Current research areas include:

  • Dynamic optimization in the presence of threshold effects.
  • The economics of epidemic control
  • Empirical and theoretical analysis of animal behavior and implications for resources management
  • The economics of global warming


"Solving Continuous-Time Optimal-Control Problems with a Spreadsheet," Journal of Economic Education, Spring 2003, 34, 2:99-122.

Abstract: The author explains how optimal-control problems can be solved with a common spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel. He illustrates the method with several examples ranging from simple models to quite advanced topics. The method is intended to be beneficial to students and teachers working with complicated theory in the classroom as well as researchers needing a tool for finding numerical solutions to optimal control problems.

"Optimal Regulation Of Natural Resources In The Presence Of Irreversible Threshold Effects," Natural Resource Modeling, Fall 2003, 16, 3, 305-333,

Abstract: Thresholds are an important physical consideration in the regulation of natural resources. This paper is the first to present a complete analytical framework in which to evaluate optimal regulation of a natural resource in the presence of irreversible threshold effects. Necessary conditions are presented for optimal regulation of these problems both for when the threshold has a known location in state-space and for when the location of the threshold is unknown. In the
case where the location is known, the literature is corrected on a seemingly minor technical point regarding the behavior of the co-state variables that turns out to be of considerable importance. For the case when the location of the threshold is not known, it is shown that thresholds in state-space implies a nonstandard risk structure.

With Andersen, I. L., Bakken, M., and Bøe, K. E, Aggression and group size in domesticated pigs (Sus scrofa) – “when the winner takes it all and the loser is standing small,” Forthcoming in Animal Behavior.

Abstract: Formation of artificial groups of domestic species occurs frequently in today‘ s husbandry systems. These groups are kept in a closed space where the individuals are not able to withdraw from the group, and resources in the environment are most commonly limited and defendable. This creates a competitive environment where aggression and social stress quite often are seen. A theoretical model that describes how aggression among unacquainted pigs is a function of group size is presented. As the number of potential competitors increases, more individuals will benefit from not getting involved in costly fights. The reason for this is that the probability of being able to monopolize resources diminishes as group size increases. To verify predictions from this model, aggression among unacquainted, weaned pigs in three different group sizes (6, 12 and 24 pigs) was compared.

In review:

With M. Margolis, "Optimal Resource Management with a Safe Minimum Standard - Conditions for Living on the Edge of Risk," Submitted to American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Abstract: Safe Minimum Standards (SMSs) has been advocated as a policy rule for certain environmental problems where uncertainty about risks and consequences are thought to be profound. This paper explores the rationale for such a policy and derives conditions for when SMS can be summarily dismissed as a policy choice and for when SMS can be defended as an optimal policy based on standard economic criteria. It turns out that these conditions can be checked with quite limited information about damages and risks. In order to analyze the SMSs in a dynamic setting, we develop a method for solving optimal control problems where the state space is divided into risky an non-risky sub-sets.

Eric Naevdal