M-RCBG Faculty Working Paper Series No. 2020-04

Rolling the Dice in the Corridors of Power:
William Nordhaus's Impacts on Climate Change Policy

Joseph E. Aldy, Robert N. Stavins

July 2020


The seminal contributions of William Nordhaus to scholarship on the long-run macroeconomics of global climate change are clear. Much more challenging to identify are the impacts of Nordhaus and his research on public policy in this domain. We examine three conceptually distinct pathways for that influence: his personal participation in the policy world; his research’s direct contribution to the formulation and evaluation of public policy; and his research’s indirect role informing public policy. Many of the themes that emerge in this assessment of the contributions of one of the most important economists to have worked in the domain of climate change analysis apply more broadly to the roles played by other leading economists in this and other policy domains.

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