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David Stern



B.A. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) M.Sc. (London School of Economics) Ph.D. (Boston University)

Contact details

David Stern is a professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University. He is a research associate in CAMA and CCEP, and a participant in the Energy Change Institute. David is an energy and environmental economist, whose research focuses on the role of energy in growth and development and related environmental impacts including climate change. He is also interested in research assessment using meta-analysis and bibliometrics.

David is currently the chief investigator for an ARC Discovery Project on “Energy Efficiency Innovation, Diffusion and the Rebound Effect” and is one of six theme leaders for a UK Department for International Development funded project on the topic of electricity and economic growth in low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. He has published widely in economics and natural science journals including articles in Nature and the Journal of Economic Literature.

He is an associate editor of Ecological Economics and PeerJ, a member of the editorial advisory panel for Nature Energy, the Energy Journal, and Open Economics, and was a lead author for the chapter on Drivers, Trends, and Mitigation in Working Group III’s contribution to the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report. He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2016. David was previously an associate professor of economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY and received his PhD from Boston University in 1994.

For more information and a complete publication list please see Prof. Stern’s website: www.sterndavidi.com. David also maintains a blog on energy, economics, and the science of science.


Modelling International Trends in Energy Efficiency

Energy Economics Vol. 34, Issue 6, November 2012

I use a stochastic production frontier to model energy efficiency trends in 85 countries over a 37-year period. Differences in energy effciency across countries are modeled as a stochastic function of explanatory variables and I estimate the model using the cross-section of time-averaged data, so that no structure is imposed on technological change over time. Energy efficiency is measured using a new energy distance function approach. The country using the least energy per unit output, given its mix of outputs and inputs, defines the global production frontier. A country’s relative energy efficiency is given by its distance from the frontier - the ratio of its actual energy use to the minimum required energy use, ceteris paribus. Energy efficiency is higher in countries with, inter alia, higher total factor productivity, undervalued currencies, and smaller fossil fuel reserves and it converges over time across countries. Globally, technological change was the most important factor counteracting the energy-use and carbon-emissions increasing effects of economic growth.

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Research interests

  • Energy economics
  • Economic growth
  • Economic history
  • Climate change
  • Meta-analysis
  • Bibliometrics


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