Sustainability Science Program

Elizabeth Walker

Elizabeth Walker

Elizabeth WalkerMs. Elizabeth Walker
Sustainability Science Program
Kennedy School of Government
Mailbox 81
Harvard University
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Office: 393 Taubman Building
Group affiliation: Doctoral Fellow

Elizabeth Walker is a Vicki Norberg-Bohm Fellow and a doctoral candidate in the Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Her interests include environmental economics and contract theory, with two research projects focusing on estimating the externalities of industrial development and designing incentives for environmental contracts, respectively.  Liz received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from MIT in 2006. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies at Harvard, Liz spent two years as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company in Washington, DC. She also spent a year working for TechnoServe in Mozambique, where she contributed to agriculture-based economic development projects. Her faculty host is Rema Hanna.

Development tradeoffs: Investigating the environmental externalities of industrial development in South Africa
This project uses quasi-experimental econometric methods to estimate the effect of industrial development on water quality in South Africa. This research is motivated by the fact that industrial development, which aims to improve lives, can have serious and often underappreciated consequences on the environment and human health. Yet, efforts to measure this effect are limited by lack of data and confounding factors. This research attempts to combine several data sets, including thirty years of water quality data from the Department of Water Affairs in South Africa, to estimate the average magnitude of the effect of industrial plant construction and operations on surrounding water quality. If results indicate a measurable effect on water quality, the analysis will be extended to estimate health effects using household and community level data also obtained from the government. As part of this research, Liz is developing maps of water quality monitoring stations, plant locations, rivers, soil types, and other environmental and social variables to explore spatial dynamics.

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