Professor Riccardo Scarpa

Riccardo Scarpa

Professor in Environmental Economics

Qualifications: Laurea (BSc) Tuscia, MSc UCWales, MA PhD Wisconsin-Madison

About Riccardo

Professor Scarpa is a leading international authority on non-market valuation, and is at the forefront of developing efficient experimental design, estimating willingness to pay and accounting for respondents ignoring specific attributes of choice. His research has had a significant impact on practice with many international organisations, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

He leads the New Zealand Institute for Business Research (NZIBR)’s Agribusiness Research Group, and his research interests also include forest economics, rural economics, food economics, environmental and resource economics, cultural heritage economics and micro-econometrics.

Research Supervised

Research Interests

The department of economics in Waikato Management School has been at the forefront in the country in terms of research output for over a decade. Postgraduate research study in economics is strongly encouraged. Our research students acquire basic to advanced research skills and a solid theoretical knowledge of economic theory, as well as specific training in specialist areas.

My research focuses on public economics, and in particular on nonmarket valuation, environmental, food and natural resource economics. I am interested in how people value goods without properly functioning markets. I am also interested in the econometric modelling of decisions concerning a variety of outdoor activities, food selection and other joint household decisions.

Econometric modelling of qualitative choice

At the core of many aggregate outcomes are a set of individual decisions regarding the selection of qualitatively different alternatives. It is widely recognised that most of our decisions as consumers take the form of discrete choices, rather than the consumption of specific quantities. such decisions are driven by our desire to maximize our expected utility, but are complicated by differences in taste. Much of my research is based on refinement of analytical models of qualitative choice.

Forest management decisions

One of the objectives deriving from our desire to reduce the man-made causes of climate change is to increase carbon sequestration by afforestation. Forests, commercial or natural, are very complicated systems providing economic benefits at both the local and global level. I am interested in the economic value of multifunctional forest management and in the design of policies that can optimize these benefits.

Food economics and health outcomes

Many food choices are down to habit and taste, which affect each-other in a complex interactive manner. Choice of diet is one of the main determinants or well-being in later life, as well as one of the main lever for prevention of chronic disease, such as diabetes and obesity. I am interested in the study of habit formation and food choice and in how they can be induced to promote better health outcomes.

Economics of Renewables

Technological progress affords us with a suite of energy alternatives with very different environmental consequences. I am interested in the economics of energy saving systems and of renewable energy devices, and their pathways to widespread adoption. My research has covered various features in this field, such the willingness to pay for adoption of microgeneration devices, and the facilitation of community generators based on renewables. I have also worked in the field of decarbonification of some agricultural processes, such as wine making.

Research supervised or co-supervised at Waikato

Ph.D./M.Phil. (completed)

  1. Dr. James Tee (M.Phil.), Completed in October 2011 (Real Options Analysis of Carbon Forestry Under The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme), Sustainable Development Officer, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, now PhD students in Neuroeconomics at New York University.
  2. Dr. Richard Yao, Ph.D. completed in April 2012 (Biodiversity conservation in NZ), Senior Research Economist, Scion Rotorua, New Zealand.
  3. Dr. Lena Mkwara, Ph.D. completed in October 2015 (Water quality in the Rotorua Lakes), Adjunct Researcher, WMS.
  4. Dr. Tom Ndebele, Ph.D. thesis completed, December 2015 (Consumer Preferences for Renewable Electricity Sources)

Ph.D./M.Phil. (in progress)

  1. Alex Kravchenko, awarded Flores Scholarship. Value of water in agriculture.
  2. Yvonne Phillips, awarded Waikato Scholarship. Non-market Valuation in the Space-Time Continuum.
  3. Stefania Mattea, supported by Marsden Grant, Royal Society of NZ, awarded Waikato International Doctoral Scholarship, Economics of land-slide protection in mountain areas.
  4. Farnaz Farhangi, awarded Waikato International Doctoral Scholarship. Economics of water demand management.

M.Sc. research

  1. 2005. Nicholas Stone: The effect of ozone ground pollution on wheat yield, a global demand analysis
  2. 2005. Yuanyuan Gao: Renewable energy: Current situation and future developments in China
  3. 2006. Nodira Karimova: An analysis of consumption patterns of Italian families during the transition to the Euro
  4. 2007. Nicolas Nazal: The international demand for farmed and wild Salmon and the Chilean supply
  5. 2007. Claudia Aravena, (External Student Univ. of Conception, Chile) (Award Winning MSc thesis and Best Paper Prize at ALEAR meeting 2007)
  6. 2010. Yvonne Matthews, Waikato Warm Home Study.
  7. 2011. Francis Powley, Contingent Valuation of Organic Cotton: an empirical investigation into the WTA-WTP Disparity.
  8. 2014. Lulu Zheng, Nonparametric finite mixing estimation in choice experiments data.

Recent Publications

  • Scarpa, R., Bazzani, C., Begalli, D., & Capitello, R. (2020). Resolvable and near‐epistemic uncertainty in stated preference for olive oil: An empirical exploration. Journal of Agricultural Economics, online. doi:10.1111/1477-9552.12398

  • De Salvo, M., Scarpa, R., Capitello, R., & Begalli, D. (2020). Multi-country stated preference choice analysis for fresh tomatoes. Bio-based and Applied Economics, 9(3), 241-262. doi:10.13128/bae-7928

  • Pedersen, L. B., Mørkbak, M. R., & Scarpa, R. (2020). Handling resolvable uncertainty from incomplete scenarios in future doctors' job choice – Probabilities vs discrete choices. Journal of Choice Modelling, 34, 14 pages. doi:10.1016/j.jocm.2019.100199

  • Arata, L., Guastella, G., Pareglio, S., Scarpa, R., & Sckokai, P. (2020). Do city dwellers care about peri-urban land use? The case of environment-friendly agriculture around Milan. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, online. doi:10.1080/09640568.2020.1799765

Find more research publications by Riccardo Scarpa


Economics; Environmental Impacts; Environmental Resources and Planning

Environmental economics, Food economics, nonmarket valuation

Contact Details

Email: [email protected]
Room: MSB.2.13
Phone: +64 7 838 4848