Introduction to Environmental Economics (1): Dr. Patrick S. Ward

Environmental Economics

The Master of Environmental Policy Program at Duke Kunshan University uses principles of economics to address real-world environmental policy challenges. It is interdisciplinary in nature, covering economics, green finance, sustainable development, natural resource management, energy transition, agricultural economics, etc.

Professor Introduction

Assistant Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy

Dr. Patrick S. Ward is an assistant professor of environmental economics and policy in the iMEP Program (Master of Environmental Policy) at Duke Kunshan University (DKU) in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, China. Prior to joining the DKU faculty, he was a research fellow in the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), first in New Delhi, India and later in Washington, DC.

Dr. Patrick S. Ward’s primary research interests center around sustainable development, with a particular emphasis on developing country agriculture. Having been based in the South Asia region for four years (2012-2016), he has extensive experience conducting research throughout the region (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan). In addition, he has also led or contributed to research on agricultural or development issues in China, Malawi, and Kenya.

Dr. Patrick S. Ward’s current research portfolio includes projects on agricultural risk management (including insurance and other financial products as well as stress-tolerant staple crop cultivars), soil fertility management and soil conservation, inclusive development of rural agricultural machinery markets, and water resource management. He is especially interested in how insights from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology can be used to inform policies and interventions to address environmental and natural resource management challenges.

Dr. Patrick S. Ward hold a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics with a specialization in International Development from Purdue University (USA). Prior to joining IFPRI, he spent a short period of time as a visiting researcher with the International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG) in Venice, Italy.

Recent Research 

1. “Can information help reduce imbalanced application of fertilizers in India? Experimental evidence from Bihar” (with Ram Fishman, Jared Gars, Avinash Kishore, and Yoav Rothler).

2. “Intrahousehold valuation, preference heterogeneity, and demand for an agricultural technology in Bihar, India” (with Kajal Gulati, Travis Lybbert, and David J. Spielman).

3. “Does identity affect aspirations in rural India? An examination from the lens of caste and gender” (with Muzna Alvi, Simrin Makhija, and David J. Spielman).

4. “Cooperation and the provision of local public goods in remote rural communities” (with Simrin Makhija, David J. Spielman, and Muzna Alvi).

5. “Behavioral constraints to the adoption of nutrition-sensitive food production systems” (with Muzna Alvi, Simrin Makhija, and David J. Spielman).

6. “Market acceptance of gene editing food biotechnology in China: Applications to cadmium contamination in rice and African Swine Fever” (with David L. Ortega and Wen Lin).

7. “Leveraging network externalities to promote soil conservation and ecosystem services: A randomized evaluation of the impacts of agglomeration payments on the diffusion of conservation agriculture in the Shire River Basin in southern Malawi” (with Andrew R. Bell, Lawrence Mapemba, Klaus Droppelmann, and Tim Benton).

8. “Bundling technology with insurance: Evidence from a randomized evaluation in Odisha, India” (with David J. Spielman and Simrin Makhija).

9. “Innovative financial products to relax quantity and risk rationing in access to rural credit in Kenya” (with Liangzhi You, Yanyan Liu, and Apurba Shee).

10. “Understanding the barriers to agricultural credit for women farmers” (with Berber Kramer).

11. “Environmental impacts of crop insurance: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Bangladesh.”

12. “Environmental exposure and Chinese students’ academic performance” (with Junjie Zhang and John Ji).

13. “Biodiversity and human health impacts of farmer decision-making” (with Randy Kramer and others).

14. “Using remote sensing for early warning of soil and water pollution” (with Songjia Zhang).

15. “Conditional cooperation and voluntary contributions to public goods: Evidence from herdsmen’s contribution preferences toward ecological protection in nature reserves in China (with Tianqi Wu and Binbin Li).

16. “FarmScore: A cluster randomized trial on the impacts of using digital technologies to unlock risk-contingent credit for marginal farmers in Odisha” (with Berber Kramer).

17. “Long-term effects of the energy transition on human capital accumulation” (with Han Ding).

18. “Does information about air quality or preventative measures affect commute choices?” (with Suzanne Ong and Han Ding).

iMEP Students’ Perspectives

Suzanne, Class of 2021

“This research opportunity is one of the most exciting highlights of my iMEP journey. We know that air pollution causes cardio-pulmonary diseases, but would people change their travel behavior on air polluted days to avoid these health risks? In Prof. Patrick’s research group, we are designing a discrete choice experiment to understand exactly that. Through this research, we explore the unique intersections of environmental policies, behavioral choices, and health valuation. I’ve gained great insight on the scientific method from Prof. Patrick’s diligent guidance and expert advice. The research team’s brainstorming, iteration, and conducive discussion brings a ton of energy and fresh perspectives every week!”

Han, Class of 2021

“Patrick is one of the best professors I’ve met at IMEP. I took three of his courses: Environmental Policy Analysis, Practicum, and Econ II. He did a fantastic job of bringing development economics to life. When I had questions, he answered all of them very patiently, and was always quick to reply during the pandemic (and with a 12hrs time difference).  Patrick is also a great mentor. His breadth of knowledge really inspired me and I thoroughly enjoy working with him.”

Courses at iMEP

Economics Boot camp

This short course provides a refresher of introductory microeconomics and an overview of intermediate microeconomics, with an emphasis on topics that are pertinent to the analysis of environmental issues (e.g., market failures, externalities, common pool and open access resources, and the implications of policy interventions)

PUBPOL 631K: Research Methods for Environmental Sciences

This graduate level course focuses on imparting a critical perspective of, and an empirical familiarity with, the range of methods available to researchers in the environmental sciences, including both health sciences and social sciences. Topics covered include quantitative and qualitative methods, experimental and quasi-experimental research designs in both the health and social sciences, sampling and sample size determination, survey design and implementation, and the process of publishing academic research.

PUBPOL 871K: Environmental Policy Analysis

This graduate level, professional course provides tools for thinking about, conducting, and communicating analysis of environmental policies. Many of the concepts and tools are discussed are widely applicable to various types of policy settings, but the focus in this course will be explicitly policy problems related to the environment. The class contains a mix of conceptual or theoretical foundations related to the process of policy analysis and policymaking, as well as practical tools and applications that will be useful in the actual structuring and conducting of environmental policy analysis.

PUBPOL 872K: Environmental Economics and Policy Practicum

This graduate level, professional course gives students an opportunity to apply the skills they acquired in previous courses (environmental policy analysis, environmental economics, statistics and program evaluation, etc.) in a practical consulting experience in research and policy analysis. In addition to the client-based projects, semi-weekly course meetings provide students with a deeper and more comprehensive grounding in economic policy analysis, specifically cost-benefit analysis (CBA).

ENVIRON 806K: Environmental Economics II

This graduate level course examines environmental issues in developing countries, including those pertaining to both indoor and outdoor air pollution, but also the management of natural resources such as land, water, and forests in rural areas in developing countries. The focus is on empirical studies that attempt to quantify the impact of human behavior on environmental outcomes or the impact of changing environmental conditions on human and developmental outcomes.


1. Bell, Andrew R., Kathryn Grace, Ehsanul Haque Tamal, Mari Alexandria Roberts, Alex Morgan, Mary Killilea, and Patrick S. Ward, “How high frequency food diaries can transform understanding of food security,” accepted for publication in Environmental Research Letters.

2. Ghosh, Ranjan Kumar, Shweta Gupta, Vartika Singh, and Patrick S. Ward. “Demand for crop insurance developing countries: New evidence from India,” Journal of Agricultural Economics 72(1): 293-320.

3. Ward, Patrick S., Shweta Gupta, Vartika Singh, David L. Ortega, and Shriniwas Gautam (2020). “What is the intrinsic value of fertilizer? Experimental value elicitation and decomposition in the hill and terai regions of Nepal.” Food Policy 20: 101809.

4. Bell, Andrew R., Patrick S. Ward, Muhammad Ashfaq, and Stephen Davies (2020). “Valuation and aspirations for drip irrigation in Punjab, Pakistan.” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 146(6): 04020035.

5. Ward, Patrick S., David L. Ortega, David J. Spielman, Neha Kumar, Sumedha Minocha (2020). “Demand for complementary financial and technological tools for managing drought risk.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 68(2): 607-653..

6. Ward, Patrick S., Simrin Makhija, and David J. Spielman (2020). “Drought-tolerant rice, weather index insurance, and comprehensive risk management for smallholders: Evidence from a multi-year field experiment in India.” Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 64(2): 421–454.

7. Ortega, David L., Patrick S. Ward, and Vincenzina Caputo (2019). “Understanding information processing heuristics to target development interventions: The case of drought risk management interventions in Bangladesh. World Development Perspectives 15, article 100132.

8. Tamal, Md. Ehsanul Haque, Andrew R. Bell, Mary Killilea, and Patrick S. Ward (2019). “Social dynamics of short term variability in key measures of household and community wellbeing in Bangladesh.” Nature: Scientific Data 6, article 125.

9. Bell, Andrew R., Patrick S. Ward, Mary E. Killilea, and Md. Ehsanul Haque Tamal (2019). “Assessing recall bias and measurement error in high-frequency social data collection for human-environment research.” Population and Environment 40(3): 325–345.

10. Gars, Jared, and Patrick S. Ward (2019). “Can differences in individual learning explain patterns of technology adoption? Evidence on heterogeneous learning patterns and hybrid rice adoption in Bihar, India.” World Development 115: 178–189

11. Hill, Ruth Vargas, Neha Kumar, Nick Magnan, Simrin Makhija, Francesca de Nicola, David J. Spielman, and Patrick S. Ward (2019). “Ex ante and ex post effects of hybrid index insurance in Bangladesh.” Journal of Development Economics 136: 1–17.

12. Bell, Andrew, Tim Benton, Klaus Droppelmann, Lawrence Mapemba, Oliver Pierson, and Patrick Ward (2018). “Transformative change through Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES): A conceptual framework and application to conservation agriculture in Malawi.” Global Sustainability 1(e4): 1–8.

13. Bell, Andrew, Patrick S. Ward, Lawrence Mapemba, Zephaniah Nyirenda, Wupe Msukwa, and Edwin Menamu (2018). “Smart Subsidies for Catchment Conservation in Malawi.” Nature: Scientific Data 5:18011

14. Arora, Anchal, Sangeeta Bansal, and Patrick S. Ward (2019). “Do farmers value rice varieties tolerant to droughts and floods? Evidence from a discrete choice experiment in Odisha, India.”  Water Resources and Economics 25: 27–41.

15. Ward, Patrick S.and Simrin Makhija (2018). “New modalities for managing drought risk in rainfed agriculture: Evidence from a discrete choice experiment in Odisha, India.” World Development 107:163–175.

16. Bell, Andrew R., Jennifer Zavaleta, Frazer Mataya, and Patrick S. Ward (2018). “Do as they did: peer effects explain adoption of conservation agriculture in Malawi.” Water 10(51):1–16.

17. Ward, Patrick S., Andrew R. Bell, Klaus Droppelmann, and Tim Benton (2018). “Early adoption of conservation agriculture practices: Understanding partial compliance in programs with multiple adoption decisions.” Land Use Policy 70: 27–37.

18. Spielman, David J., Patrick S. Ward, Deepthi E. Kolady, and Harun-Ar-Rashid (2017). “Public incentives, private investment, and outlooks for hybrid rice in Bangladesh and India.” Applied Economics and Policy Perspectives 39(1): 154–176.

19. Ward, Patrick S.and Gerald E. Shively (2017). “Disaster risk, social vulnerability and economic development.” Disasters 41(2): 324–351.

20. Bell, Andrew Reid, Patrick S. Ward, Mary E. Killilea, and Md. Ehsanul Haque Tamal (2016). “Real-time social data collection in rural Bangladesh via a `microtasks for micropayment’ platform on Android smartphones.” PLoS ONE 11(11): e0165924. [Open access]

21. Bell, Andrew R., Patrick S. Ward, and Md. Azeem Ali Shah (2016). “Increased water charges improve efficiency and equity in an irrigation system.” Ecology and Society 21(3): 21. [Open access]

22. Ward, Patrick S., Andrew R. Bell, Gregory M. Parkhurst, Klaus Droppelmann, and Lawrence Mapemba (2016). “Heterogeneous preferences and the effects of incentives in promoting conservation agriculture in Malawi.” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 222: 67–79.

23. Ward, Patrick S. (2016). “Transient poverty, poverty dynamics and vulnerability to poverty: An empirical analysis using a balanced panel from rural China.” World Development 78: 541–553.

24. Ortega, David L. and Patrick S. Ward (2016). “Information processing strategies and the effects of framing in developing country choice experiments: Results from rice farmers in India.” Agricultural Economics 47: 493–504.