Professor Riccardo Scarpa

Riccardo Scarpa

Professor in Environmental Economics


Economics; Environmental Impacts; Environmental Resources and Planning

Environmental economics, Food economics, nonmarket valuation

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

Personal Website:

Contact Details

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

Papers Taught

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 from random utility models of discrete/continuous choices. His research is highly interdisciplinary and has had a significant impact on many international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, The World Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

He is part of 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, regulation economics and micro-econometrics.


He published over 170 peer-reviewed articles (over 90 in economics journals) that have been cited in Scopus Journals over 6,000 times (over 3,000 times in economics journals). His google scholar H-index is 54 (on Scopus it is 43).

Research Supervised

1) Valuation of ecosystem services in George Town (Penang, Malaysia) and systems of environmental economics accounts

2) Cognitive effort and attention in non-market valuation surveys

3) Random Utility Models for discrete-continuous choices

4) Food consumer preferences for geographic origin, organic farming, and sustainable attributes

5) Farmers' adaptation to climate change

6) Preference analysis of patients for new medical products

Research Interests

The department of economics in Waikato Management School has been at the forefront of the country in terms of research output for over a decade. A 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 modeling of decisions concerning a variety of outdoor activities, food selection, and other joint household decisions. I am also very involved in inter-disciplinary research with economics.

Research topics

Econometric modeling 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 recognized 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 the 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 levels. 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 of well-being in later life, as well as one of the main lever for the prevention of chronic diseases, 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 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 as the willingness to pay for the adoption of microgeneration devices, and the facilitation of community generators based on renewables. I have also worked in the field of decarbonization of some agricultural processes, such as winemaking.

Research students 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, completed PhD in Neuroeconomics at New York University. Currently Researcher at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  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, Lincoln University, Christchurch.
  4. Dr. Tom Ndebele, Ph.D. thesis completed, December 2015 (Consumer Preferences for Renewable Electricity Sources), Associate Researcher, Clark University, USA.
  5. Dr. Alex Kravchenko, awarded Flores Doctoral Scholarship. Ph.D. thesis completed, November 2016, (Water quality valuation in New Zealand), currently Economic Affairs Officer at the Trade Policy and Facilitation Section, Trade Investment and Innovation Division, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. Co-supervised with Prof. J. Gibson and Prof. A. Strutt.
  6. Dr. Yvonne Phillips, awarded Waikato Doctoral Scholarship. Ph.D. thesis completed, December 2017. Non-market Valuation in the Space-Time Continuum. Currently Senior Economist at NIWA, Hamilton, New Zealand.
  7. Dr. Stefania Mattea, supported by Marsden Grant, Royal Society of NZ, awarded Waikato International Doctoral Scholarship, Ph.D. thesis completed, July 2018, Economics of land-slide protection in mountain areas. Winner of the "Best Post-graduate Thesis Award AARES 2019". Currently sustainability and environmental coordinator with Ghella Ltd., Auckland New Zealand.

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

  1. Mrs. Chia Chia Koay, (started 2021) awarded Waikato Doctoral Scholarship. Topic: Nonmarket valuation of Ecosystem Services in George Town (Penang, Malaysia).

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.

Editorial Service in Peer-reviewed Academic Journals


Associate editor

Board Member

Research Impact Indicators

Recent Publications

  • Asiago-Reddy, E. A., McPeak, J., Scarpa, R., Braksmajer, A., Ruszkowski, N., McMahon, J., & London, A. S. (2022). Perceived access to PrEP as a critical step in engagement: A qualitative analysis and discrete choice experiment among young men who have sex with men. PLoS ONE, 17(1), 21 pages. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0258530

  • Atzori, R., Pellegrini, A., Lombardi, G. V., & Scarpa, R. (2022). Response Times and subjective complexity of food choices: A web-based experiment across 3 countries. Social Science Computer Review, online, 24 pages. doi:10.1177/08944393211073585

  • Scarpa, R., Bazzani, C., Begalli, D., & Capitello, R. (2021). Resolvable and near‐epistemic uncertainty in stated preference for olive oil: An empirical exploration. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 72(2), 335-369. doi:10.1111/1477-9552.12398

  • Sourd, R., Beaumais, O., Mahieu, P. -A., Martínez-Camblor, P., & Scarpa, R. (2021). A contingent valuation test for measuring the construct validity of willingness-to-pay estimates derived from choice-experiments. Land Economics, online, 102219-0150R1. doi:10.3368/wple.97.3.102219-0150r1

Find more research publications by Riccardo Scarpa