University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Profiles of University of Michigan Faculty Experts in State and Local Policy Areas

Professor Gloria Helfand

Associate Professor of Environmental Economics, School of Natural Resources and Environment

Years On UM Faculty: 10

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When asked whether her research has been affected by interactions with the policy world, Professor Helfand responds:

"Both my research and my teaching have been influenced by interactions with those involved in public policy. What is theoretically desirable in an ideal world may be politically or socially unattainable. Research is much more effective when it recognizes those real-world constraints and incorporates them into the project. Teaching too benefits from talking to students about the relationship between theory and reality."


Most of Professor Helfand's work is on different regulatory approaches to pollution control. In particular, she has examined the conditions under which market-based approaches to pollution control may be effective as well as situations where they may not be desirable.


"Testing for Efficiency of the SO2 Allowance Market" with Professor Michael Moore, School of Natural Resources and Environment

Efficiency - whether profit opportunities are fully realized in a market - is a key criterion for evaluating a market mechanism for environmental regulation. Evidence on the efficiency of the sulfur dioxide (SO2) allowance market is mixed. This research seeks to explain the evolution of SO2 allowance prices. First, it proposes four novel empirical models of SO2 market efficiency; second, it will test the alternative models using econometric methods and SO2 price data from 1994-2003. The empirical models will explore the efficiency of allowance trading as well as the role of other factors in the prices of SO2 allowances. The addition of several years of new data will both provide for better explanation of SO2 prices and will also allow us to look for a transition in the SO2 market from an "immature" to a "mature" state, that is, from inefficiency to efficiency.


Professor Helfand is generally interested in environmental policy questions. In any research project, in the back of her mind are two questions: what are the benefits and costs of an action; and who gains and who loses from that action? She believes that these questions can be very useful for understanding the dynamics of just about any policy issue.

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University of Michigan Gateway Ford School Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy