New PhD Projects


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About the Authors


Moritz Rohling is PhD student at the Chair of Economics


Julia Blasch is PhD student at the Chair of Economics


Nadja El Benni is PhD student at the Chair of Agri-food & Agri-environmental Economics


Hermann Comoé is PhD student at the Chair of Agri-food & Agri-environmental Economics

"Prices vs. Quantities": Environmental regulation under incomplete enforcement, fiscal cushioning and Knightian uncertainty

PhD student: Moritz Rohling

Chair: Renate Schubert, Professor of Economics (ECON)

Strict and legally binding environmental regulations are indispensable to prevent a threatening degree of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. To the economist, the fundamental idea of regulating pollution is to internalize environmental externalities. The most appropriate regulations are either via "Prices", which refers to the manipulation of prices through emission taxes, or via "Quantities", which corresponds to the allocation of marketable pollution permits. In a first-best scenario, an emission tax set equal to the marginal damage at the efficient level of aggregate emissions would maximize social net benefits from emission reductions. Alternatively, tradable pollution permits result in a price per unit of emission which is equal to the tax rate. Unfortunately, reality is far away from being a first-best world. Environmental regulations have to deal with several uncertainties regarding both, abatement costs and benefits as well as compliance and enforcement problems. For several decades, environmental economists have discussed which regulatory instrument is particularly suitable given these real-world problems. The discussion on "Prices vs. Quantities", initialized by Martin Weitzman in 1974, is quite prominent among environmental economists. In my studies, I focus on the influence of cost/benefit-uncertainty and incomplete enforcement on the rational choice of instrument. My PhD project intends to gain a deeper understanding of instrument choice, which improves policy recommendations for future negotiations on environmental regulation.

Consumer self-regulation compared to government regulation –  The case of ­voluntary carbon offsets

PhD student: Julia Blasch

Chair: Renate Schubert, Professor of Economics (ECON)

In my PhD project I evaluate whether and to what extent voluntary carbon offsets may contribute to global climate change mitigation. The growing number of offsetting opportunities (e.g. for airtraveling, car use, household electricity use or mailing) suggests that the market for voluntary carbon offsets is meeting growing consumer demand. Within my study, private offsets are interpreted as voluntary measures to internalize negative externalities from consumption and are thus a form of consumer self-regulation. I analyze empirically what determines private consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for voluntary carbon offsets. One of the study’s goals is to find out to what extent WTP values for voluntary measures allow to draw conclusions about consumer reactions to mandatory government regulation (e.g. a carbon tax). The results will be discussed in the context of the literature on private provision of public goods.

The Value of Risk Management Instruments for Swiss Farmers under the ­Consideration of Direct Payments

PhD student: Nadja El Benni

Chair: Bernard Lehmann, Professor of Agri-food & Agri-environmental Economics (AFEE)

Since the early 1990s, the market deregulation strategies of Swiss agricultural policy lead to decreasing output prices. At the same time, direct payments are used to stabilize farmers’ income. The first goal of this project is to evaluate, how agricultural policy affected income risk of Swiss farmers over the last twenty years. Therefore, risk aversion parameters and there changes over time are estimated. Further market liberalization and climate change will lead to increasing price and yield variability in the future. The second goal of this project is to evaluate, which kind of risk management instruments would be of value for farmers. The income effect of selected market based risk management instruments on case farm operations under different price and yield scenarios is simulated, taking the effect of direct payments into account.

Contribution to food security by improving farmers’ responses to climate change in northern and central areas of Côte d’Ivoire

PhD student: Hermann Comoé

Chair: Bernard Lehmann, Professor of Agri-food & Agri-environmental Economics (AFEE)

The overall goal of my PhD project is to contribute to improve food security in rural areas of Côte d’Ivoire by better responses of farmers to climate change. Therefore, farmers’ decision-making process related to climate change and their risk management strategies against the negative impacts of climate change will be analyzed. On the basis of my results I will elaborate feasible and acceptable adaptation strategies towards climate change and formulate suggestions how to transfer the knowledge to the stakeholders. Therefore, farmers’ perception of climate change and their adaptation behaviour or behavioural intentions will be investigated considering the institutional context in Côte d’Ivoire. Aspects to be considered are socio-economic and market conditions as well as individual factors such as values and perception of climate risks.


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