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Alexander Pfaff
Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Professor in the Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy
Professor in the Department of Economics
Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society
Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative
Faculty Research Scholar of DuPRI's Population Research Center

Areas of Expertise


Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1995)
B.A., Yale University (1988)


Alexander Pfaff was an author of the IPBES Global Assessment. He discusses the influential report on the POlicy 360 podcast. Listen | Transcript



Alexander Pfaff discusses the environmental impact of China's massive regional infrastructure project, the "Belt and Road Initiative" on the Policy 360 podcast. Listen | Transcript



Alex Pfaff is a Professor of Public Policy, Economics and Environment. Trained as an economist, he is focused on how the environment and natural resources, economic development, and a range of policies influence each other.

Research accessible at

He has studied: impacts on forests of protected areas, incentives, roads, railroads and concessions/certification (Brazil’s Amazon, Costa Rica, United States, Panama, Madagascar, Mexico, Peru, Cameroon, Bolivia); institutional responses to water shocks (Brazil’s Northeast, Colombia, Mexico); drivers of harmful exposures (groundwater arsenic in Bangladesh, stove emissions in China & Pakistan); and incentives for firms to self-audit and disclose (United States). This applied research aims to increase the chance that policies have their intended impacts upon not only the environment but also the people affected.