Gary Libecap

Senior Fellow


Growing up in Livingston, Montana, Gary Libecap was deeply influenced by the landscape surrounding his small town. In time, his professional interests focused on topics interwoven into the fabric of western society. He explores problems based on shared resources through the framework of property rights. Libecap studies the way outside factors influence market transactions. He looks at the gains often available by internalizing solutions, or keeping the role of the state limited. In the area of water, Libecap investigates the outcomes of state intervention (either assistance or regulation) on the resource and also the private water market.

Libecap, the Donald Bren Professor of Corporate Environmental Management and Economics at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and Economics Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Libecap enjoys teaching and classroom interaction, but his passion is research.

Spending his youth in rural Montana, Libecap indulged his imagination by reading about exotic places. Since that time, he has been privileged to visit New Zealand, Uruguay, Paris, Tokyo, Prague, Turin, and others. Libecap does not have a favourite international destination, but has found each to be fascinating. The most intriguing city for him was perhaps Berlin. The Cold War informed much of his previous knowledge of Berlin, but as he spent time there, he came to see it as it was, and how it has changed after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Currently, he is the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University in Britain. There he is researching and teaching about problems of natural resource management under common pool conditions.

Libecap describes himself as "very energetic." H is passion is the family cabin in western Montana. Free time cannot be too common a problem though, Libecap has been the recipient of nearly four dozen awards, written seven books and over fifty article, plus monographs, contributing chapters, and book reviews and was President of the Economic History Association, the Western Economic Association International, and the International Society for New Institutional Economics.

Libecap is also the Marge and Sherm Telleen Fellow at the Hoover Institution as well as a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His current research is the development of water markets and transfers.

Gary Libecap received a B.A. in Economics (with high honors) from the University of Montana in 1968. His M.A. and Ph.D. came from University of Pennsylvania in 1969 and 1976. Libecap and his wife live in Santa Barbarbara with a menagerie that includes a horse, parrot, and a German Shorthair. He has two children.

A modest man, Libecap often points out that he does not consider himself an expert- there is always more to learn, and things change so much. His colleagues at PERC though, welcome his considerable experience, thoughtful analysis, and energetic persona.


The tragedy of the commons: property rights and markets as solutions to resource and environmental problems
(May 2009)

Lessons from fisheries reform
(May 2009)

Property rights and the public trust doctrine in environmental protection and natural resource conservation
(January 2009)

Rescuing Water Markets: Lessons From Owens Valley (No. 33)
(January 2005)

Research Studies

Innovatiions a>
PERC Workshop
(October 2009)
Owens Valley Revisited: A Reassessment of the West's First Great Water Transfer
(July 2007)

Books By Perc Authors And Editors — Books


Features — PERC Reports

Environmental Phantasm
Political Forces Keep Dreams Of Ethanol Alive
(June 2003)


Current Work: 
Articles by Gary Libecap >