Luke Boutwell, Ph.D.
Senior Manager, Special Projects
In his role as Manager for Special Projects, Luke focuses on projects that have unique analytical and conceptual challenges. He uses advanced statistical methods and economic theory to design solutions to difficult problems in a variety of settings.
His clients include international media companies, environmental non-profits, agricultural consultancies, and eCommerce companies, among others. Luke also serves as an internal resource for research and development, promoting creative solutions for new clients and industries and continuing development for existing products and services.
Before joining Mather Economics, Luke was a Research Fellow at the Louisiana State University Center for Natural Resource Economics and Policy, where he studied the impact of coastal land-loss on hurricane vulnerability along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to prioritize wetland restoration projects based on their risk-reduction value. During his time there, he worked on projects with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Nature Conservancy, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and several other environmental- and agriculture-based organizations as an economics subject matter expert.
Luke holds a Doctoral degree in Agricultural Economics from Louisiana State University with concentrations in Environmental Economics and Econometrics, a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics (top of class) from Louisiana State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from the University of Alabama.
If you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I travel often and enjoy a wide range of destinations, but I am always drawn back to New Orleans, Louisiana. The rich mix of cultures and the integration of the natural and human worlds makes New Orleans one-of-a-kind. The vibe of the city comes from its food, music, parades, landscape, history, and, most of all, its people, and New Orleans has a special place in my heart.
What is your favorite quote?
“What is a cynic?… A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing….And a sentimentalist…is a man who see an absurd value in everything and doesn’t know the market price of a single thing.” – Oscar Wilde
Economics is an often-misunderstood discipline. Most observers perceive that Economics is about studying money. Economists often use prices and monetary measures to solve problems, but these are only clues that inform solutions. Economics is not about the money – its about decisions. Many valuable things are not bought and sold in markets, and, therefore, do not have prices. However, we still make decisions based of the cost and benefits of actions pertaining to them. As Economists, our task is to attempt to measure the benefits and costs of the decisions we make about the things we value, and money is regularly used as a convenient means to that end. This quip cleverly evokes the risk of both seeing the world only in dollars and cents and seeing the world without trade-offs.