David Vail

Adams-Catlin Professor of Economics Emeritus

Phone 2077290879
Title Adams-Catlin Professor of Economics, Emeritus
Department Economics
Work Location Hatch Science Library
E-Mail dvail@bowdoin.edu
David Vail

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Current and Recent Activities 

David’s current research focuses on two distinct topics: the feasibility of grass biomass as a source of renewable energy and development of ecotourism quality labels.

The multi-disciplinary grass biomass project is funded by the National Science Foundation and operates through the University of Maine at Presque Isle. It focuses on the potential for sustainable production of energy crops on northern Maine’s marginal farmland. The final project report is due in summer 2014.

The exploration of tourism quality labels originated as a five year collaboration with the Swedish Ecotourism Association and currently centers on Maine and Northern New England. The project, sponsored by the Maine Woods Consortium, has received support from the US Department of Agriculture, the Maine Office of Tourism, The University of Maine Business School, the Sewall Foundation, and the Betterment Fund.

David is a consultant to Maine Woods Discovery (MWD), eight of Maine’s premier outdoor adventure providers, such as the Appalachian Mountain Club and Maine Huts and Trails. He oversaw the design of MWD’s standards-based cooperative branding and marketing initiative, launched in spring, 2014.  The initiative builds on insights from David’s work with the Sweden’s Nature’s Best brand and his study of tourism quality labels around the world.  He is also a consultant to the New England Forestry Foundation on its study of the Economic Potential of Forest Recreation in New England.

Current pro bono advisory roles include the four Maine tribes’ Wabanaki Cultural Tourism Initiative, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences’ Downeast Fisheries Restoration Project, the Maine Woods Consortium’s Tourism Committee, and the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust. David is a board member of The Swedish Program for American students at the Stockholm School of Economics; Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (a community development finance institution); and The Chewonki Foundation (an experiential environmental education foundation).  

David was a founding board member of the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), a non-partisan public policy think tank. From 2004 to 2010 he directed MECEP’s Spreading Prosperity to All of Maine project (see publications list at www.mecep.org ). In the recent past, David served on several Maine and New England advisory bodies: the Maine House Speaker’s Tax Reform Advisory Commission (2002); the Governor’s Steering Committee on Natural Resource-based Industries (2004-06); the Gulf of Maine Council’s Sustainable Tourism Committee (2003-06); the Maine Department of Conservation’s Green Infrastructure Task Force (2006); the Governor’s Council on Maine’s Quality of Place (advisor, 2007-08); and the New England Governors’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Land Conservation (Maine scientific advisor, 2009-10).

Recent publications include “Maine Woods Discovery: Launching a Tourism Quality Label” (Bangor Daily News 2014); “Consumer Support for a Maine Woods Tourism Quality Label” (with Harold Daniel, Maine Policy Review 2012); Amenity Investments and Tourism Destination Development (Maine Center for Economic Policy 2010); and “Prospects for a Rural Population Rebound: Can Quality of Place Lure In-migrants?” (Maine Policy Review 2010). 

David’s favorite pastimes include organic gardening, sea kayaking and masters swimming. At the 2013 National Senior Games, he won three swim events and set two national records for his age group. He holds numerous New England Masters records and posted ten US and three World top ten rankings in 2013.


PhD in Economics, Yale University (1971)
    Thesis: The Public Sector as Stimulus of Innovation in African Smallholder
BA in International Affairs, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School (1965)
    Magna cum laude 
    Omicron Delta Epsilon, national honor society in economics