Nicholas E. Burger

Photo of Nicholas Burger
Director, Washington Office; Senior Economist
Washington Office


Ph.D. in economics, University of California, Santa Barbara; B.A. in economics and philosophy, University of Southern California

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Nicholas Burger is director of RAND's Washington office and a senior economist at the RAND Corporation. His work focuses on environmental economics and international development, including energy and climate change. He was a lead author on the Fourth Assessment Report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. At RAND, Burger has coauthored a report on designing viable climate change policies and estimated the costs of renewable energy. He recently completed a three-year randomized control trial to evaluate a farmer training program in China that is designed to reduce negative environmental impacts of farming. He was part of a team that contributed analysis to the first Quadrennial Energy Review through the Department of Energy.

Burger's other international development work includes studying constraints to growth of the private health sector in sub-Saharan Africa and evaluating one of Indonesia's major community-driven development anti-poverty programs. He led a team that assessed ways to relax constraints to growth for small and medium sized enterprises in Indonesia, and he recently completed an analysis of innovative affordable housing models in India. He has also work with the Department of Defense to develop and execute efforts to evaluate U.S. security assistance. 

Burger received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Recent Projects

  • Poverty-reduction program evaluation in Indonesia
  • Program evaluation of an agricultural training program in China
  • Reforming Policies for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises In Indonesia
  • Economic costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions under a U.S. national renewable electricity mandate
  • The Socioeconomic Effects of the Working Poor Moving to Permanent Dwellings

Selected Publications

Burger, Nicholas, Daniel Kopf, Connor P. Spreng, Joanne Yoong, and Neeraj Sood, "Healthy Firms: Constraints to Growth Among Private Health Sector Facilities in Ghana and Kenya," PLoS ONE, 7(2), 2012

Crane, Keith, Nicholas Burger, and Martin Wachs, "Putting a Tax on Oil," Public Works Management Policy, 17(3), 2012

Burger, Nicholas, Gary Charness, and John Lynhamc, "Field and Online Experiments on Self-Control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 77, 2011

Sood, Neeraj, Nicholas Burger, Joanne Yoong, Dan Kopf, and Connor Spreng, "Firm-Level Perspectives on Public Sector Engagement with Private Healthcare Providers: Survey Evidence from Ghana and Kenya," PLoS ONE, 6(11), 2011

Crane, Keith, Aimee E. Curtright, David S. Ortiz, Constantine Samaras, Nicholas Burger, "The Economic Costs of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions under a U.S. National Renewable Electricity Mandate," Energy Policy, 39, 2011

Burger, Nicholas, and John Lynham, "Betting on Weight Loss... and Losing: Personal Gambles as Commitment Mechanisms," Applied Economics Letters, 17(2), 2010

Burger, Nicholas, and Daniel T. Kaffine, "Gas Prices, Traffic, and Freeway Speeds in Los Angeles," The Review of Economics and Statistics, 91(3), 2009

Kotchen, Matthew J., and Nicholas Burger, "Should We Drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? An Economic Perspective," Energy Policy, 35, 2007

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: KPCC-FM Online; WalletHub


  • Floating ice and iceberg in Antarctic Peninsula

    When It Comes to Climate, Look for Vulnerabilities in Policy, Not Science

    Federal policymakers have picked up on the concept of red teaming — actively seeking out one's own vulnerabilities. While red teaming may not make sense for climate science, it does offer great benefits when weighing climate policy options.

    Aug 4, 2017 The Hill

  • A house with energy-efficient solar panels on the roof

    Getting (Solar) Electricity Pricing Right

    Demand for rooftop solar panels is soaring among U.S. homeowners. Meanwhile, states are struggling to adapt a 20th-century electrical grid—and the corresponding cost structure for electricity rates—to this 21st-century reality. This is causing confusion and uncertainty.

    Jul 24, 2017 The Energy Collective

  • The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp passes the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole and USS James E. Williams on its way to the pier in New Orleans, Louisiana

    Climate Change Is a National Security Issue, but Not for the Reasons You Think

    All U.S. policy decisions can and should be guided by clear evidence. Climate change policy is no exception. The United States should focus on addressing the clearest vulnerabilities, such as securing coastal defense infrastructure.

    Dec 16, 2015 War on the Rocks

  • An ocean gas rig emits plumes of smoke

    Global Methane Initiative: Converting Harmful Emissions to Usable Energy

    Carbon dioxide has garnered the most attention in the climate change debate because it accounts for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions. But there is good reason to worry about methane, say Nicholas Burger and Noreen Clancy.

    Feb 6, 2013 The RAND Blog