Dr. Robert Richardson

Dr. Robert Richardson

Dr. Robert Richardson is Associate Professor of Sustainable Development in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. He is an ecological economist with interests in the study of environment and development, particularly the contribution of ecosystem services to socioeconomic well-being. He holds a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from Colorado State University. His teaching, research, and outreach program focuses primarily on sustainable development and food security. Dr. Richardson uses a variety of methods from the behavioral and social sciences to study decision making related to the use of natural resources and the protection of ecosystem services. His research has included assessments of agricultural-environmental linkages, the role of natural resources in poverty alleviation and food security, vulnerability to climate change, and tradeoffs in decision making about environmental management.

Dr. Richardson has over 15 years of experience in research and outreach related to sustainable development and natural resource management in developing countries. His current research focuses on the dynamics of social and ecological systems, particularly the relationships between the environment and socioeconomic welfare, and the role of natural resource policies in advancing economic development and enhancing rural livelihoods. His research on these topics has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the United Nations Development Programme. He has conducted research in Central America, southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Tanzania, and Zambia. Dr. Richardson is a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and chairperson of the subcommittee on Sustainable and Healthy Communities. He has served on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics, and he is a member of the International Society for Ecological Economics.

Areas of Expertise: Agricultural Economics, Social Science, Sustainable Development
Relevant Publications:

Waldman, K. B., D. L. Ortega, R. B. Richardson, and S. S. Snapp. (2017). Estimating Demand for Perennial Pigeon Pea in Malawi Using Choice Experiments. Ecological Economics 131: 222-230. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.09.006.

Hockett, M. and R. B. Richardson. (2016). Examining the Drivers of Agricultural Experimentation Among Smallholder Farmers in Malawi. In press, Experimental Agriculture. doi: 10.1017/S0014479716000673.

Waldman, K. B., D. L. Ortega, R. B. Richardson, D. Clay, and S. Snapp. (2016). Preferences for Legume Attributes in Maize-Legume Cropping Systems in Malawi. Food Security 8(6): 1087-1099. doi: 10.1007/s12571-016-0616-4.

Mulenga, B. P., P. Hadunka and R. B. Richardson. (2017). Rural Households’ Participation in Charcoal Production in Zambia: Does Agricultural Productivity Play a Role? Journal of Forest Economics 26: 56–62. doi: 10.1016/j.jfe.2017.01.001.

Mungai, L., S. S. Snapp, J. Messina, R. Chikowo, A. Smith, E. Anders, R. B. Richardson, and G. Li. (2016). Smallholder Farms and the Potential for Sustainable Intensification. Frontiers in Plant Science: Agroecology and Land Use Systems 7(1720): 1-17. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01720.

Ortega, D. L., K. B. Waldman, R. B. Richardson, D. Clay, and S. Snapp. (2016). Sustainable Intensification and Farmer Preferences for Crop System Attributes: Evidence from Malawi’s Central and Southern Regions. World Development 87: 139–151. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.06.007. [read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]

Mulenga, B., R. B. Richardson, G. Tembo, and L. Mapemba. (2014). Rural Household Participation in Markets for Non-Timber Forest Products in Zambia.Environment and Development Economics 19(04): 487-504.

Arvai, J., D. Kellon, R. León, R. Gregory, and R. Richardson. (2014). Structuring International Development Decisions: Confronting Tradeoffs Between Land-use and Community Development in Costa Rica. Environmental Systems and Decisions 34(2): 224-236.

Richardson, R. B., D. Kellon, R. Leon, and J. L. Arvai. (2013). Using Choice Experiments to Understand Household Tradeoffs Regarding Pineapple Production and Environmental Management in Costa Rica. Journal of Environmental Management 127:308-316.

Zulu, L. and R. B. Richardson. (2013). Charcoal, Livelihoods, and Poverty Reduction: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa. Energy for Sustainable Development17(2): 127-137.

Mshenga, P. M. and R. B. Richardson. (2013). Micro and Small Enterprise Participation in Tourism in Coastal Kenya. Small Business Economics 41(3): 667-681.

Richardson, R. B., A. Fernandez, D. Tschirley, and G. Tembo. (2012). Wildlife Conservation in Zambia: Impacts on Rural Household Welfare. World Development 40(5): 1068-1081.

Richardson, R. B. (2010). Ecosystem Services and Food Security: Economic Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability. Sustainability 2(11): 3520-3548. [/read]


Nkonde, C., T. Jayne, R. B. Richardson, and F. Place. (2015). Farm size and productivity relationship: Evidence from Zambia using alternative productivity measures and a wide range of farm sizes. Presented at the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, Washington, DC, March 23, 2015.

Richardson, R. B. and K. B. Waldman. (2015). Estimating demand for perennial pigeon pea in Malawi using choice experiments. Presented at the joint meeting of the Canadian and U.S. Societies for Ecological Economics, Vancouver, BC. October 2, 2015. [read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]

Richardson, R. B., L. Schmitt Olabisi, and K. B. Waldman. (2015). Searching for sustainable intensification of agriculture: Implications for landscapes and livelihoods. Presented at the joint meeting of the Canadian and U.S. Societies for Ecological Economics, Vancouver, BC. October 2, 2015.

Richardson, R. B. (2014). Participatory approaches for enhancing rural food security and community resilience. Presented at Resilience 2014 – Resilience and Development: Mobilizing for Transformation, Montpellier, France, May 6, 2014.

Richardson, R. B. (2013). Climbing down the energy ladder: Biophysical limitations of expanded wood fuel use in sub-Saharan Africa. Presented at the biennial meeting of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics, Burlington, VT, June 12, 2013.

Richardson, R. B. (2012). Rural development and non-timber forest products: Perspectives on poverty alleviation. Presented at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, Edmonton, Alberta Canada, June 18, 2012.

Richardson, R. B., A. Fernandez and D. L. Tschirley. (2009). The impact of wildlife conservation on rural development in Zambia. Presented at the Regional Science Association International, San Francisco, CA, November 19, 2009.

Richardson, R. B., A. Fernandez and D. L. Tschirley. (2009). The impact of wildlife conservation on rural welfare in Zambia,” biennial meeting of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics, Washington, DC, June 1, 2009.[/read]