Margaret Insley

Associate Professor

Department of Economics

University of Waterloo





      BA (University of Calgary, Economics) 
      MA (University of Alberta, Economics)
      PhD (University of Guelph, Economics)

Google scholar profile

Curriculum Vitae


My research examines optimal decisions under uncertainty related to the use of natural resources and impacts on the environment.  I have explored a range of topics including forestry, oil, water, climate change, and hazardous waste.  I model optimal decision-making as a stochastic optimal control problem, which usually reduces to the solution of a Hamilton Jacobi Bellman equation.  Except for very simple cases, these equations must be solved numerically.  Recently I have been studying how uncertainty in the future path of temperature due to climate change affects the strategy of decision makers in making decisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Undergraduate classes: Energy and Natural Resource Economics (Ec 255 and 355), Environmental Economics (Ec 357), Cost Benefit Analysis (Ec 361)
Graduate classes: Natural Resource Economics (Ec 655), Real Options and Investment (Ec 659)


I did my BA in economics at the University of Calgary and my MA at the University of Alberta. After completing my Master’s degree in the early 1980’s, I worked as an economist in an energy company in Calgary for six years. In the late 1980’s I moved to Waterloo and in the 1990’s began PhD studies in economics at the University of Guelph, specializing in the economics of natural resources and the environment. My thesis research examined making optimal decisions under uncertainty in the context of the protection of groundwater resources. I received my PhD in 1996 and in 2002 I accepted my current position as a faculty member in Economics at the University of Waterloo. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on natural resource economics and decision making under uncertainty. I am supervising a number of PhD students with interests in my research areas.

Discussion papers

Yichun Huang and Margaret Insley, The economics of water conservation regulations under uncertainty: An application to Alberta’s lower Athabasca River region, July 2020.

Sara Aghakazemjourabbaf and Margaret Insley, Leaving your tailings behind: Environmental bonds, bankruptcy and waste cleanup, December 2020.

Margaret Insley, Tracy Snoddon, and Peter A. Forsyth, Strategic interactions and uncertainty in decisions to curb greenhouse gas emissions,  October 2019.

Shan Chen, Margaret Insley, and Tony Wirjanto The impact of stochastic convenience yield on long term forestry investment decisions 2012.

Selected Publications

1.    Margaret Insley and Peter A. Forsyth, Climate games: Who’s on first? What’s on second?, Actualité économique, 95, 2019.

2.    Margaret Insley, Resource extraction with a carbon tax and regime switching prices: Exercising your options, Energy Economics, 67, 1-27, 2017.

3.    Shilei Niu and Margaret Insley, An options pricing approach to ramping rate restrictions at hydro power plants, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 63, 25-52, 2016.

4.    Abdullah Almansour and Margaret Insley, The impact of stochastic extraction cost on the value of an exhaustible resource: An application to the Alberta oil sands, Energy Journal, 37(2), 2016.

5.    Shilei Niu and Margaret Insley, On the economics of ramping rate restrictions at hydro power plants: Balancing profitability and environmental costs, Energy Economics, 39, 39-52, September 2013.

6.    Shan Chen and Margaret Insley, Regime switching in stochastic models of commodity prices: An application to an optimal tree harvesting problem, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 36(2), 201-219, February 2012.

7.    M. Insley and T. Wirjanto, Contrasting two approaches in real options valuation: contingent claims versus dynamic programming, Journal of Forest Economics, 16(2), 157-176, April 2010.

8.    M. Insley and M. Lei, Hedges and trees: Incorporating fire risk into optimal decisions in forestry using a no-arbitrage approach, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics,32(3), 492-514, December 2007.

9.    M. Insley and K. Rollins, On solving the multi-rotational timber harvesting problem with stochastic prices: a linear complementarity formulation, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(3), 735-755, 2005.

Office: HH 127, x32209

University of Waterloo, Dept. of Economics
200 University Ave. W
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
+1 519 888 4567 x32209

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Last modified: October 2019.