Peter Howley
Senior Lecturer



Peter joined the Environment Department as a Lecturer in Environmental Economics in 2012 having previously worked as a research officer for Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority) in Ireland. Prior to this he obtained his PhD from the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy at University College Dublin. Peter's research interests are broadly in the field of applied microeconometrics with a particular focus on issues related to health and well-being, environmental valuation, farmers’ decision-making and urban and regional planning.

Research interests

Much of my recent research has been aimed at appying econometric and spatial modelling techniques to better understand the drivers of population health and well-being. This involves looking at the role of social (e.g. social networks, neighbouring) and physical capital (e.g. neighbourhood disamenities, air pollution, geohazards) on individuals overall quality of life.  My work in agriculture seeks to provide a rationale for the prevalence of inefficient farm practices such as relatively low rates of uptake of efficiency-enhancing technologies and more generally sub-optimal financial behaviours.  This work shows the importance of considering non-pecuniary benefits, productivist attitudes and risk aversion when analysing farmers’ behaviourI have also a strong background in applied environmental economics research.  Specifically, I have applied a variety of non-market valuation methods to value changes in the provision of environmental goods and services. Finally, following on from my PhD related research, I maintain an active research interest in issues related to urban renewal and residential mobility across the life-cycle.  

Selected Recent publications (Please see York Research Database above for a more complete list)

Howley, P (2017) Less money or better health: Evaluating individual's willingness to make trade-offs using life satisfaction data. Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation. In press. 

Howley, P., Dillon, E., Heanue, K. and Meredith, D. (2016) Worth the risk? The behavioral path to well-being. Journal of Agricultural Economics, In press.

Marr, E., Howley, P. and Burns, C. (2016) Sparing or sharing? Differing approaches to managing agricultural and environmental spaces in England and Ontario. Journal of Rural Studies, 48, 77-91.

Howley, P. (2015) The happy farmer: The effect of nonpecuniary benefits on behavior. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 97(4), 1072-1086.

Howley, P., O Neill, S. and Atkinson, R. (2015) Who needs good neighbors? Environment and Planning A, 47, 939-956

Howley, P., Buckley, C., Donoghue, C. and Ryan, M. (2015) Explaining the economic ‘irrationality’ of farmers’ land use behaviour: the role of productivist attitudes and non-pecuniary benefits. Ecological Economics, 109, 186-193.

PhD supervision

I am interested in hearing from PhD students with research interests broadly in the areas of health and well-being, environmental and natural resource economics, farmers’ decision-making and urban and regional planning. 

Current PhD students

- Eric Marr: Food Production or Biodiversity Protection: Competition for Agricultural Land in the United Kingdom and Canada. 

- Sarah Knight: Examining the impact of environmental disamenities on health and well-being - co-supervised with Dr. Colin McClean Environment Department

- Juan C. Trujillo: Extreme weather events, health and well-being

- Jenifer Chapman: Balancing benefits and risks of veterinary medicinal products - co-supervised with Professor Alistair Boxall

- Alda Tomo (co-supervised with Jon Ensor): Ecosystem based adaptation to climate change.

- Arianna Escalente (co-supervised with Joshua Kirschner): Economic Development and Environmental sustainability in Mexico




Howley, Peter 

Contact details

Dr Peter Howley
Senior Lecturer
Environment Department
University of York
YO10 5NG

Tel: 01904 324058
Fax: 01904 322998




Applied Economics for the Environment

Resource Economics


Economic Theory for Environmental Management

Other teaching

Contributor to Introduction to Environment, Economics and Ecology and Tools and Techniques for Studying the Environment (1st years)



Current Research Projects

Immigration and well-being, Funded by the Nuffield Foundation (£177,000), 2017-2020

PI: Peter Howley, Co-I’s: Tony Heron, University of York, Mirko Moro and Liam Delaney, Stirling University

Project summary:

The effect of immigration on the welfare of the native UK population has been the subject of intense political debate, and was one of the dominant issues in the recent EU referendum campaign. In public discourse, immigration is often associated with adverse effects on employment opportunities for natives, as well as additional burdens on taxpayers through rising health care costs and demand for social services. The available evidence would suggest, however, that immigration has had few, if any, negative effects on natives’ economic outcomes. The objective of this proposed study is to move beyond ‘objective’ measures of welfare such as wages and employment, and investigate if immigration affects the wellbeing of natives (either positively or negatively) as captured by ‘subjective’ indicators of well-being.


IKnowFood: Integrating Knowledge for Food Systems Resilience, Funded by the BBSRC (£2.74 million), 2016-2020

PI: Bob Doherty, Co-I’s: Jon Ensor, Tony Heron, Peter Howley, Helen Petrie, Kate Pickett, Chris West (University of York); Bruce Grieve and Kirkor Ozanyan (University of Manchester); Jason Halford (University of Liverpool)

Project summary

Systems of food production, trade and consumption are increasingly vulnerable to interconnected political, economic and ecological shocks and stresses associated with climate and environmental changes, shifts in farming practices, uneven power dynamics and consumer lifestyle changes. IKnowFood will take an interdisciplinary multi-stakeholder approach to developing a unifying understanding of ‘food system resilience’ using tools and methods to integrate the knowledge and perspectives of hitherto disparate food system actors.

Through integrating knowledge from both sciences and social sciences the aim of the project is to remove the significant disconnects between various actors in the global food system and enhance overall food system resilience. Our aim is to produce new datasets, information resources, appropriate technology tools for farmers, decision making tools for business and consumer mobile technologies all working to minimise trade-offs and secure complementarities.


Cost-effective supply chain for livestock in Ethiopia: a preliminary investigation of pastoralists preferences for livestock market services. N8 agri-food, strategic pump priming scheme

Riccardo Scarpa, Luca Panzone, Peter Howley, Samartha Thankappan, Girma Kassie, Merisa Thompson

Project Summary

Ethiopia has about 120 government-recognized livestock markets whose resilience is suffering from lack of watering, shading, feeding, resting, and quarantine facilities. Consequent value loss due to animal and human sufferings (meat producers & consumers) is large. To address this, the Ethiopian government formulated a national livestock master plan and market development initiatives. These suffer high uncertainty due to lack of grass roots level information on the willingness to pay by livestock traders for specific interventions. To fill this information gap, this project will sample two sites and administer structured surveys based on a clear experimental design. Response will generate gender disaggregated data on how to prioritize such market development initiatives. Cutting edge econometric modelling will be used to collect and analyze data. We focus on overall resilience of the livestock supply chain. Willingness-to-pay estimates will help select self-sustaining market services from the viewpoint of market users



Current PhD Students

Eric Marr - Food Production or Biodiversity Protection? Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship

Supervisor: Peter Howley

Summary: The study has three objectives to be completed in two regions of comparison, Ontario, Canada and England, UK: (1) analysis of the current agri-environmental land-use policy context, (2) understand the land management preferences of stakeholder organisations and, (3) understand farmers’ views and motivations relating to the protection of environmental features. Overall, the goal of this research is to support the creation of land-use policies that achieve an optimal balance between agricultural and environmental land uses, while also aligning with the preferences of stakeholders.


Juan C. Trujillo - Three Essays on Environmental Policy Issues for a Tropical Humid Conurbation. Funded by the Economic Development, Institutions, and Public Policies for the Progress of the Colombian Caribbean.

Supervisor: Peter Howley

Summary: This project explores the relationship between extreme weather events and well-being in Barranquilla Columbia. One strand relates to the relationship between weather and crime and the other relates to willingness to pay for a Sustainable Urban Drainage System aimed at mitigating the effect of flash floods in the area.


Sarah Knight – Environmental disamenites and well-being. Funded by the ESRC

Supervisors: Peter Howley and Colin McClean

Summary: This work centres on matching geo-referenced longitudinal household surveys (e.g. the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society) with geo-referenced environmental datasets available from public sector bodies such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department of Communities and Local Government and the Office for National Statistics.  The overall aim is to examine the role of aspects of the physical environment (e.g. air pollution and landfills) on well-being.


Karine Rassool

Supervisors: Peter Howley and Dominic Moran

Summary: The key aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of the value of the fisheries sector for the Seychelles economy. This will include an assessment of the direct (fish catch) and indirect (tourism, downstream benefits to other industries) benefits. The analysis will be informed by developing key macroeconomic indicators for the fisheries sector as well as a natural capital accounting approach. This research will inform both government, corporate and consumer decision making when it comes to the proper management of the Seychelles’ fisheries sector. 


Jenifer Chapman - Benefit-risk assessment of veterinary medicinal products. Funded by the The German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) and FERA

Supervisors: Alistair Boxall, Glyn Jones and Peter Howley

Summary: Comparing the benefits and environmental risks of veterinary medicinal products involves a high amount of complexity. The comparison is required to support the European authorization process. Work within this PhD has developed decision support tools for the comparison of benefits and environmental risks. The benefit-risk concepts were tested with case study environmental risk data. Additionally, the influence of risk mitigation measures on environmental risk will be explored from a unique stakeholder perspective.


Ariana Escalante Kantun - Economic Development and Environmental sustainability in Mexico. Funded by CONACYT: the National Council of Science and Technology

Supervisors: Joshua Kirchner and Peter Howley

Summary: The aim of this research is to provide authoritative analysis on the social, economic and technical challenges associated with a transition towards a low-carbon economy in Mexico.


Alda Tomo – Ecosystem based adaptation to climate change in Mozambique

Supervisors: Jon Ensor and Peter Howley