Robert D Cairns

Academic title(s): 

Professor, CIREQ


Contact Information:

Office: 304-3463 Peel                   
Phone: (514) 398-1075
Email: robert [dot] cairns [at] mcgill [dot] ca 


Curriculum vitae: 

Natural Resource Economics, Industrial Organization



Robert Cairns came to McGill in 1978. His research is in natural resource economics and industrial economics. Main subjects of his current work are green accounting and sustainability theory.


Selected publications: 

Forthcoming publications

  • “Good Timing: The Economics of Optimal Stopping” (with G.A. Davis), accepted for publication in Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control

Journal articles

  • “Accounting for Sustainability: A Dissenting Opinion”, Sustainability 2011, 3: 1341-1356.
  • “Sustained Development of a Society with a Renewable Resource”, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 34 (6), June 2010, 1048-1061 (with H. Tian)
  • “Green Accounting for Black Gold”, The Energy Journal 30 (4), October 2009, 113-139
  • “Exhaustible Resources, Non-Convex Costs and Competitive Equilibrium,” Environment and Resource Economics 40 (2), June 2008, 177-193
  • “Value and Income,” Ecological Economics 66 (2-3), June 2008, 417-424
  • “Strike when the Force is With You: Optimal Stopping with Application to Resource Equilibria”, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 89 (2), 2007, 461-472 with G.A. Davis
  • “Accounting for Sustainability or Accounting for the Environment?” Resources Policy 31(4), December 2006, 211-216
  • “Implementing Carbon Credits for Forests based on Green Accounting”, Ecological Economics 56, 2006, 610-621 (with P. Lasserre)
  • “Maximin: A Direct Approach to Sustainability”, Environment and Development Economics 11, 275-300, 2006 (with N.V. Long)
  • “Rejecting the Hotelling Valuation Principle”, Emprical Economics 30, 473-478 (with G. A. Davis)
  • "The Choice of the Cutoff Grade in Mining", Resources Policy 29, 75-81, 2005 (with T. Shinkuma)
  • "Green Accounting for an externality: pollution at a mine",Environmental and Resource Economics. 27, 2004, 409-427
  • "Principals of green accounting for renewable and nonrenewable energy resources", Energy Policy 32, 2004, 261-267
  • "Reinforcing Economic Incentives for Carbon Credits for Forests", Forest Policy and Economics 6, 2004, 321-328 (with P. Lasserre)
  • "Two proposals to improve price-cap regulation", Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 160, 2, 2004, 243-251 (with A.G. Heyes).
  • "Maximin without discounting", Natural Resource Modeling, 16(2), Summer 2003.
  • "Reconciling the green accounts", Environmental and Resource Economics, 2003.
  • "Green accounting using imperfect, current prices." Environmental and Development Economics, 7, 2002, 207-214.
  • "Green national income and expenditure." Canadian Journal of Economics, 35(1), February 2002, 1-15.
  • "Adelman's rule and the petroleum firm." The Energy Journal 22:3 (2001), 31-54 (with G.A. Davis).
  • "Capacity choice and the theory of the mine." Environment and Resource Economics 18 (2001), 129-148.
  • "Seeing the trees as a forest: What counts in green accounting."Ecological Economics 36 (2001), 61-69.
  • "Accounting for resource depletion: A microeconomic approach."Review of Income and Wealth 46:1, March 2000, 21-31.
  • "Sustainability accounting and green accounting." Environment and Development Economics 5, special issue, 2000, 49-54.
  • "The converse of Hartwick's rule and uniqueness of the sustainable path." Natural Resource Modeling 13:4, Winter 2000, 493-502 (with Z. Yang).
  • "The social cost of eating cake," Ecological Economics 31, 1999, 19-21.
  • "Valuing petroleum reserves using current net price." Economic Inquiry 37:2, April 1999, 295-311 (with G.A. Davis).
  • "An assessment of Thailand's new telecommunications plan,"Telecommunications Policy 22:2, March 1998, 154-156 (with D. Nikomborirak).
  • "Are mineral deposits valuable? A reconciliation of theory and practice." Resources Policy 24:1, March 1998, 19-24.
  • "Economic theory and the valuation of mineral reserves." OPEC Review, September 1998, 169-183 (with G. A. Davis).
  • "On opposition to rent seeking: Implications for developing countries." Review of Development Economics 2:3, October 1998, 282-292 (with N.V. Long).
  • "On using current information to value hard-rock mineral properties." Review of Economics and Statistics LXXX:4, November 1998, 658-663 (with G.A. Davis).
  • "Optimal exploration for and exploitation of heterogeneous mineral deposits." Journal of Environmental Economics and Management35:2, March 1998, 164-189 (with N.V. Quyen).
  • "Simple analytics of valuing producing petroleum reserves." The Energy Journal 19:4, October 1998, 133-142 (with G.A. Davis).
  • "Sufficient conditions for a class of investment problems." Journal of Economic Development and Control 23:1, September 1998, 55-69.
  • "The microeconomics of mineral extraction under capacity constraints." Nonrenewable Resources 7:3, September 1998, 233-244.
  • "Competition and regulation in the taxi industry." Journal of Public Economics 59, 1996, 1-15 (with C. Liston-Heyes).
  • "Toward measuring monopoly power." Review of Industrial Organization 11, February 1996, 125-133.
  • "Uncertain contestability." Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 30, 1996, 125-131.


  • Review of Welfare Measurement in Imperfect Markets, by T. Aronsson, K.-G. Lofgren and K. Backlund, Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 2005
  • Review of Economic Theory for the Environment: Essays in Honour of Karl-Goran Mäler, eds. B. Kristrom, P. Dasgupta and K.-G. Lofgren, Journal of Economic Literature
  • Review of White Gold: Hydroelectric Power in Canada by K. Froschauer. Canadian Public Policy XXVI:3, 2000, 395.
  • Review of Ontario Hydro at the Millennium: Has Monopoly's Moment Passed? Ed. R. Daniels. Canadian Public Policy XXIII:1, 1997, 113-114.

Conference proceedings

  • "Green accounting for a commercial fishery", in Microbehavior and Macroresults, Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference, International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, 2001, 4 pp.
  • "Liberalization by regulation." In New Management Trends in the New Century, Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Management (ICM 2001), ed. Xi Youmin, Huang Haijun, Liang Lei, Wang Kanliang. Beijing: China Higher Education Press; Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 719-726.
  • "The ratchet effect under Cournot rivalry." In New Management Trends in the New Century, Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Management (ICM 2001), ed. Xi Youmin, Huang Haijun, Liang Lei, Wang Kanliang. Beijing: China Higher Education Press; Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 747-756 (with A. Soubeyran).
  • "Modeling investment in and environmental constraints on mineral extraction." Proceedings, Fifth Annual Meeting, Mineral Economics and Management Society, ed. H. McCarl, 1996, 220-239.