Larson, Donald F.

Development Research Group, World Bank
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Fields of Specialization
Rural Development Policy; Natural Resource Policy; Agricultural Productivity and Growth; Climate Change Policy and Markets; Commodity Markets and Risk
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Development Research Group, World Bank
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Last updated: January 31, 2023
Donald F. Larson is a Senior Economist with the World Bank’s Development Research Group. He holds a B.A in economics from the College of William and Mary, an M.A. in economics from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland. With colleagues, he has authored or edited five books, including An African Green Revolution: Finding Ways to Boost Productivity on Small Farms, a forthcoming volume from Springer, and The Clean Development Mechanism: An Early History of Unanticipated Outcomes, a forthcoming volume from World Scientific. He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles, with an emphasis on agricultural productivity and growth; food and rural development policies; natural resource policies; the institutions and markets related to climate change; and the performance of commodity futures and risk markets. During his time with the World Bank, Don has participated in policy discussion in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, East Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He was a member of the team that launched the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund.  
Citations 168 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Publication
    Substitution and Technological Change under Carbon Cap and Trade : Lessons from Europe
    (2009-06-01) Considine, Timothy J.; Larson, Donald F.
    The use of carbon-intense fuels by the power sector contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas emissions of most countries. For this reason, the sector is often key to initial efforts to regulate emissions. But how long does it take before new regulatory incentives result in a switch to less carbon intense fuels? This study examines fuel switching in electricity production following the introduction of the European Union s Emissions Trading System, a cap-and-trade regulatory framework for greenhouse gas emissions. The empirical analysis examines the demand for carbon permits, carbon based fuels, and carbon-free energy for 12 European countries using monthly data on fuel use, prices, and electricity generation. A short-run restricted cost function is estimated in which carbon permits, high-carbon fuels, and low-carbon fuels are variable inputs, conditional on quasi-fixed carbon-free energy production from nuclear, hydro, and renewable energy capacity. The results indicate that prices for permits and fuels affect the composition of inputs in a statistically significant way. Even so, the analysis suggests that the industry s fuel-switching capabilities are limited in the short run as is the scope for introducing new technologies. This is because of the dominant role that past irreversible investments play in determining power-generating capacity. Moreover, the results suggest that, because the capacity for fuel substitution is limited, the impact of carbon emission limits on electricity prices can be significant if fuel prices increase together with carbon permit prices. The estimates suggest that for every 10 percent rise in carbon and fuel prices, the marginal cost of electric power generation increases by 8 percent in the short run. The European experience points to the importance of starting early down a low-carbon path and of policies that introduce flexibility in how emission reductions are achieved.
  • Publication
    Do Farmers Choose to Be Inefficient? Evidence from Bicol
    (2009) Larson, Donald F.
    Farming households that differ in their ability or willingness to take on risks are likely to allocate resources and effort among income producing activities differently with consequences for productivity. In this paper we measure voluntary and involuntary departures from efficiency for rice producing households in the Bicol region of the Philippines. We take advantage of a panel of observations on households from 1978, 1983 and 1994. Available monthly weather data and survey information on planting times allows us to create household specific measures of weather shocks, which we use in our analysis. We find evidence that diversification and input choices do affect efficiency outcomes among farmers, although these effects are not dominant; accumulated wealth, past decisions to invest, favorable market conditions, and propitious weather are also important determinants of efficiency outcomes among Bicol rice farmers. Our findings suggest that the costs of incomplete formal and informal insurance markets are higher for poorer farmers.
  • Publication
    Will Markets Direct Investments under the Kyoto Protocol? Lessons from the Activities Implemented Jointly Pilots
    (2009) Larson, Donald F.
    Under the Kyoto Protocol, countries can meet treaty obligations by investing in projects that reduce or sequester greenhouse gases elsewhere. Prior to ratification, treaty participants agreed to launch country-based pilot projects, referred to collectively as Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ), to test novel aspects of the project-related provisions. Relying on a ten-year history of projects, we investigate the determinants of AIJ investment. Our findings suggest that review-agency preferences related to national political objectives and possibly deeper cultural ties influenced project selection and limited the number of AIJ projects. Bilateral ties also appear to have affected investment decisions directly, possibly because of related transaction costs. The results suggest an investment process different from the assumptions that underlie well-known estimates of cost-savings related to the Protocol's flexibility mechanisms. We conclude that if approaches developed under the AIJ programs to approve projects are retained, the scale of investment under Kyoto's flexibility provisions and their cost-savings will be less than what is generally anticipated and the pattern of investment less driven by abatement costs.
  • Publication
    The Performance of Bulgarian Food Markets during Reform
    (2009-03-01) Larson, Donald F.
    Food policy often depends on markets and markets depend on institutions. But how good do institutions have to be before reforms can be launched? Relying on well timed surveys of agricultural prices and a joint study by the Government of Bulgaria and the World Bank on agricultural market institutions, this paper presents evidence that performance in food markets improved following significant policy reforms in Bulgaria, although public institutions remained weak. This suggests that even though strong institutions are preferred to weak ones, it can be costly and impractical to delay policy reforms until work on strengthening institutions is finished. Still, measured performance varied by place and by commodity, suggesting that markets developed at different tempos and that the distribution of benefits from improved markets was uneven. This points to the need to address the costs of adjustment as policies change. The paper introduces a new approach to measure market performance based on composite-error techniques.