A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Michael Ash and James K. Boyce, finds that for racial minorities, living near facilities such as gas or oil refineries or coal processing plants did not significantly bolster minority employment. Instead, they found that minorities living near such plants are more likely to be exposed to pollutants but could not count on them to provide jobs. Ash and Boyce took information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and did a comparison as part of the study. (Phys.org, 10/3/18)
James Boyce, along with Raymond Bradley (Geosciences), has written an opinion piece about the need to put a price on carbon, arguing that pollution pricing will reduce emissions, boost economy. (Commonwealth, 5/18/18)
Congratulations are due to Professor Boyce who’s book Economics, the Environment and Our Common Wealth was named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 by Choice Magazine. Choice is widely read by academic librarians in the US.
The book is a collection of essays that combine modern political economy with environmental economics. The essays in the volume cover topics from housing and credit markets to agriculture and globalization. The core of Boyce’s argument revolves around the idea that a clean and safe environment is not a commodity to be allocated on the basis of purchasing power, nor a privilege to be allocated through political power, but rather a basic human right. Building upon this premise, James K. Boyce explores the many ways in which economics can be refashioned into an instrument for advancing human well-being and environmental health.
UMass Amherst Department of Economics Professor James K. Boyce discusses why GDP is not necessarily a good economic indicator in an interview on The Real News Network.
UMass Amherst Department of Economics professors and researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), Michael Ash and James Boyce, release the fifth edition of Toxic 100 Air Polluters, an index ranking corporations by the pollutants they release, the toxicity of those releases, and the number of people exposed.
James Boyce, UMass Amherst economics professor and director of the Program on Development, Peacebuilding, and the Environment at the Political Economy Research Institute, is interviewed about the relationship between economic inequality and environmental pollution.
In this new collection of essays, James K. Boyce explores the idea that the environment belongs in equal measure to us all; a clean and safe environment is not a commodity to be allocated on the basis of wealth, nor a privilege to be allocated through political power, but rather a basic human right. Building upon this premise, Boyce explores the many ways in which economics can be refashioned into an instrument for advancing human well-being and environmental health. Topics covered include environmental justice, disaster response, globalization and the environment, industrial toxins and other pollutants, cap-and-dividend climate policies, and agricultural biodiversity.
James Boyce, UMass Amherst Economics Professor and Director of the Program on Development, Peacebuilding and the Environment at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), and Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity and Director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California, have co-authored a new report which finds that a climate change mitigation strategy would positively impact the health of millions of poor and minority Americans.
The report, Cooling the Planet, Clearing the Air: Climate Policy, Carbon Pricing, and Co-Benefits, found that the same industrial facilities that emit carbon tend to generate other harmful pollutants, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, that actually pose a more immediate and direct threat to the health of nearby residents. Since these facilities are typically located in or near low-income and minority communities, adding these harmful “co-pollutants” to a climate change mitigation strategy would have an almost immediate positive health impact on the health of millions of poor and minority Americans. The research showed that the benefits would be comparable in economic value to the benefits of the carbon reduction by itself.
The peer-reviewed report is the first national level study to take such a careful look at the potential to further reduce harmful air pollution as part of any strategy to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reverse climate change.
James Boyce, UMass Amherst economics professor, is interviewed by the Valley Advocate about Econ4, a new initiative focused on economics for people, for the planet, and for the future. The organization supports the Occupy Wall Street movement and opposes what it calls “the ideological cleansing of the economics profession” and the “political cleansing in the vital debate over the causes and consequences of our current economic crisis.” (Valley Advocate, 12/22/11)
“We can’t just write on our computers,” Boyce says. “We need a strategy for communicating ideas. We aim to do an end run around the corporate-controlled media and its talking heads by using new information technologies.”
By contributing Internet-friendly teaching materials and creating a collaborative space for an online community of dissident economists—their Network for Innovative Economics Teaching—Econ4 hopes to change the study and implementation of economics.
“Part of the problem is economics itself, in the research being done and the economics being taught,” Boyce continues. “We want to change the public understanding of how the economy works, and, more importantly, how it should work.”
UMass Amherst Economics Professors James Boyce, Gerald Epstein and Nancy Folbre and Econ4, a collaborative organization which originated at UMass Amherst earlier this year, are featured in a Chronicle of Higher Education article which discusses the effort to expand viewpoints and teaching methods in the field of economics. Boyce, Epstein and Folbre argue alternatives to the orthodox approach. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12/13/11)
The founders of Econ4 want the economy, and the study of economics, to pay more attention to such issues as the fair distribution of opportunities; to emphasize minimizing vulnerability in the economic system instead of maximizing efficiency; and to strive to give a fuller accounting of the costs and benefits of market and government decisions, including consequences for the environment and the value of caring for dependents.
“Our basic aim is to try to produce a change in economics in the United States,” said James K. Boyce, professor of economics at UMass-Amherst, and a founder of the group. “We see a connection in how the economy is such a mess and what has happened in the economics profession over the last two decades.”
The continuing political debate over whether the government should intervene in the markets, or whether they should be left to themselves, also needs to be reframed, Mr. Boyce said. “The central question is the distribution of wealth and power,” because the two are increasingly correlated.
“If you don’t have purchasing power, you lose when markets operate. If you don’t have political power, you lose when it comes to how governments operate,” he said. “Do we live in a democracy or an oligarchy?”
Higher education is no stranger to complaints of ideological dominance in certain disciplines, but they regularly come from conservative scholars who see a bias against their viewpoints. The irony is not lost on those who want economics to be more intellectually inclusive.
While he acknowledged that political bias probably does sometimes exist in such departments as gender or ethnic studies, the difference in economics is that the bias is not just one of perspective but also of methods, said Gerald A. Epstein, a professor of economics at UMass-Amherst and a founder of Econ4.
“The problem is that their view of how to think like an economist is extremely narrow to the point of being cut off from some of the major questions affecting society,” Mr. Epstein said. “In the end it is a form of indoctrination.”
While every discipline is resistant to unorthodox ideas, said Ms. Folbre of UMass-Amherst, this tendency is amplified in economics departments because its scholars study how economic power is deployed. “Whether you favor the current deployment of power has big implications for what kind of resources you can get,” she said. “It’s more subject to ideological bias than sciences that aren’t so embedded in realpolitik.”
Ms. Folbre pointed to the pay that economists earn as proof of the perceived value of the discipline.
Over the past 30 years, economics and business professors have seen their salaries soar in comparison with their colleagues, according to a recent analysis published in The Chronicle. In 1980, a full professor of economics earned 13.9 percent more than a full professor of English. Thirty years later, the economics professor earns 41 percent more. Similarly, business faculty were paid 11 percent more than the typical full professor of English in 1980. Business professors now earn 50.9 percent more. The only gap larger was for law professors.
“The closer you are to the center of power, the better you’re paid,” Ms. Folbre said. The stakes and penalty for acting out, she added, also increase.