William S. Breffle

Bill Breffle portrait

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  • Associate Professor of Economics, School of Business and Economics
  • Affiliate Professor, SFRES
  • PhD, Economics, University of Colorado at Boulder

Biography

Dr. Breffle is an applied microeconomist specializing in environmental economics. Prior to joining Michigan Tech, he conducted economics research primarily for testimony for large Natural Resource Damage Assessments, typically at Superfund sites. He has done work in 15 states for a variety of stakeholders, working mainly with State and Federal Trustees. As a result, he brings practical and policy-relevant experience to Michigan Tech classrooms.

Dr. Breffle regularly presents new research at national professional meetings, is published in peer-reviewed books and top journals, and brings grant funding to Michigan Tech. He has published twenty-five research papers and over twenty technical reports. Two of Dr. Breffle’s journal articles were selected for the International Library of Environmental Economics and Policy book volumes as "important and influential essays." Another publication co-authored by Dr. Breffle in 2006 was recently listed among the top 200 "most influential" research papers in the discipline of environmental and ecological economics based on a rigorous statistical evaluation of nearly seven thousand articles using the Web of Knowledge citation index.

In 2011, Dr. Breffle was a Finalist for the Wells Fargo Teacher of the Year award in the School of Business and Economics. Dr. Breffle was interviewed by CBS-Detroit in 2012 as part of the Great Lakes Technology and Innovation Report, and in 2014, he was selected as the first ever Props for Profs recipient after being nominated by a student for going above and beyond his teaching duties. In 2015, Dr. Breffle was selected as a Finalist for the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award, the university's highest teaching honor, and he was inducted into the Michigan Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence.

Research Focus

The Great Lakes and their broader ecosystems help shape the industries, recreation, and culture of the people who live near them. The activities of those residents, in turn, affect the lakes and their ability to provide economic services. Dr. William S. Breffle, Associate Professor of Economics, is conducting research that examines the long-term environmental and economic impact of human activity on the Great Lakes environment. Dr. Breffle expects that, ultimately, the research will aid in the development of policy management tools that sustain and protect the environmental and human-use services provided by these critical resources.

Additionally, Dr. Breffle has collaborated on a grant with the Michigan Tech Research Institute to study how the economic losses from sedimentation following forest fires can be mitigated, which is a topic recently discussed by the U.S. Senate in testimony at a full committee hearing.

Teaching Interests

  • Environmental economics
  • Natural resource economics
  • International economics
  • Mathematical economics
  • Principles of economics

Research Interests

  • Non-market valuation
  • Discrete choice modeling
  • Benefit-cost analysis
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Health economics

Selected Publications

  • Dillingham, R., W.S. Breffle, and M.C. Kelly. 2017. A latent-class discrete-choice model of demand for economics electives: A case study on the challenge to increase enrollment. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education. Forthcoming.
  • Bhattu, B., B. D. Barkdoll, and W.S. Breffle. 2017. A sustainability-based socio-technical-environmental project selection. Sustainable Water Resources Management. DOI 10.1007/s40899-017-0149-9.
  • Jin, Y., R.P. Donovan, and W.S. Breffle. 2016. A dynamic model to assess the carrying capacity of a defined system. Journal of Sustainable Development 9(4):151-164.
  • Breffle, W.S., M. Eiswerth, D. Muralidharan, and J. Thornton. 2015. Understanding how income influences willingness to pay for joint programs: A more equitable value measure for the less wealthy. Ecological Economics 109:17-25.
  • Wright, S., D. Muraliharan, A. Mayer, and W.S. Breffle. 2014. Using contingent valuation to estimate the willingness to pay for improved water supplies in rural Ugandan villages. Journal of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Development 4(3):490-498.
  • Breffle, W.S., D. Muralidharan, R.P. Donovan, F. Liu, A. Mukherjee, and Y. Jin. 2013. Socioeconomic evaluation of the impact of natural resource stressors on human-use services in the Great Lakes Environment: A Lake Michigan case study. Resources Policy 38:152-162.
  • Chestnut, L.C., R.D. Rowe, and W.S. Breffle. 2012. Economic valuation of mortality-risk reduction: stated preference estimates from the U.S. and Canada. Contemporary Economic Policy 30(3):399-416.
  • Breffle W.S., E.R. Morey, and J.A. Thacher. 2011. A joint latent-class model: combining Likert-scale preference statements with choice data to harvest preference heterogeneity. Environmental and Resource Economics 50:83-110.