John Tilton

University Professor Emeritus and Research Professor, Economics and Business





  • PhD, Economics, Yale University
  • MA, Economics, Yale University
  • BA, Public & International Affairs, Princeton University

Research Areas

  • Environmental and natural resource economics
  • Commodity prices and markets
  • Metal production, trade, use, and recycling
  • Material substitution and the nature of metal demand
  • Depletion and the long-run availability of mineral commodities
  • Mining and economic development


Selected Recent Publications

Public Policy and Future Mineral Supplies,Resources Policy (2018), PP. 55-60. Co-authored with P.C.F. Crowson, John H. DeYoung Jr., Roderick G. Eggert, Magnus Ericsson, Juan Ignacio Guzmán, David Humphreys, Gustavo Lagos, Philip Maxwell, Marian Radetzki, Donald A. Singer, and Friedrich-W. Wellmer.

Assessing the Market Power of Mineral Commodity Producers,” Mineral Economics (2018), pp. 71-76.

Global Climate Policy and the Polluter Pays Principle: A Different Perspective,” Resources Policy (2016), pp. 117-118.

Cyclical and Secular Determinants of Productivity in the Copper, Aluminum, Iron Ore, and Coal Industries,” Mineral Economics (2014), pp. 1-19.

The Terms of Trade Debate and the Policy Implications for Primary Product Producers,” Resources Policy (2013), pp. 196-203.

Using the Cumulative Availability Curve to Assess the Threat of Depletion: The Case of Lithium,” Resources Policy (2009), pp. 185-194. Co-authored with Andrés Yaksic.


Mineral Economics and Policy (Routledge for RFF Press, 2016). Co-authored with Juan Ignacio Guzmán.

On Borrowed Time: Assessing the Threat of Mineral Depletion (RFF Press, 2003).

World Metal Demand: Trends and Prospects (RFF Press, 1990). Editor.

Material Substitution: Lessons from Tin-Using Industries (RFF Press, 1983). Co-authored with P.D. Canavan, F.R. Demler, and D.G. Gill.

The Future of Nonfuel Minerals (Brookings Institution, 1977).

International Diffusion of Technology: The Case of Semiconductors (Brookings Institution, 1971).

Select Recent Presentations

Our Mental Models of Mineral Depletion and Why They Matter

The Future Availability of Mineral Commodities

Understanding Mineral Commodity Prices: Short-Run Fluctuations and Long-Run Trends

The Resource Curse: Causes and Consequences

Prebisch, Singer, and the Great Terms of Trade Debate

Nature of Material Substitution and the Implications for Metal Demand