PhD Position Environmental Economics

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job area: PhD

Educational Level: MSc

VU unit: Faculty of Science

Contract type: Temporary with prospects to extension

Minimum FTE: 0.8

Minimum salary scale: €2,770 (PhD)

Maximum salary scale: €3,539 (PhD)

Would you like to study the use of voluntary carbon offsets to promote sustainable diets and develop behavioural strategies to educate and encourage citizens to adopt them? Then you could be the ideal PhD candidate to join our team! Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 – 1


The Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) has a new full-time four-year position for a doctoral (PhD) candidate in the field of environmental economics. You will become part of a new 4-year interdisciplinary research project funded by IVM that aims to study the potential of voluntary carbon offsets to mitigate individual dietary emissions, and the different ways to increase people’s willingness to pay for them. While voluntary carbon offsets have been studied extensively in the context of flying behaviours, little is known about their potential of influencing other individual behaviours like diets. Further, amidst growing concerns about their additional effects, there is sparse literature on citizens’ ability to assess such offsetting schemes and their willingness to pay for them. The PhD researcher will investigate and study the following research questions:

  • What factors explain people’s willingness to buy voluntary carbon offsets generally and can they be applied to carbon-intensive diets, such as meat and dairy?
  • How can we boost people’s abilities to evaluate food sustainability and their understanding of how to offset emissions from their diets?
  • How can we steer people’s willingness to offset their dietary emissions?
  • Do individual dietary carbon offsets result in related good behaviours, such as greener energy consumption or lower waste?
  • To what extent do individual dietary carbon offsets really offset individual dietary emissions?

This PhD project will be supervised by Dr Sanchayan Banerjee, Dr Thales A. Pupo West, and Prof. Pieter van Beukering.

An important part of the project is the ability to design and administer randomised controlled trials, using different platforms, such as in the field, lab or online. The ideal candidate should, therefore, possess a strong quantitative background in statistics and have the desire to learn advanced experimental econometric techniques.

Your duties

  • publication of research results in international peer-reviewed journals and policy-oriented journals, culminating in a dissertation at the end of the project
  • teaching and supervising Bachelor and Master students in areas of behavioural, experimental and environmental economics (to be discussed)
  • contributing to project related tasks such as developing further grant proposals for extending scope of research and an annual workshop/conference (to be discussed)


  • an MSc degree in economics (including environmental economics), public policy or any related social science is a pre-requisite.
  • prior training in quantitative statistical methods (such as regression analysis, methods of causal inference) is a pre-requisite.
  • proficiency in English is a pre-requisite.
  • an interdisciplinary background is preferred.
  • a demonstrable research interest in one or more of the following themes/methods: behavioural economics, experimental economics, environmental economics, public policy, food studies.
  • experience in teaching and MSc/BSc supervision and demonstrable communication skills are desirable


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 3 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

About the institute and department
Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognised for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Geography, Environmental Policy Analysis; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM has been part of the Faculty of Science at VU Amsterdam (legal name Stichting VU).

The department of Environmental Economics (EE) leads the institute’s efforts in improving insights into the interaction between the environment and the economy. The department is one of the main groups of environmental economists in Europe, consisting of around 35 scientific staff and PhD researchers. The department strategy is to consolidate and further strengthen its position as a major player in the European field of environmental economics. Important fields of application include climate change, energy, circular economy, water, ecosystem services, and environmental and natural resource management. The philosophy of EE department is to closely integrate its research projects with its teaching programme and to initiate and conduct research jointly with stakeholders and collaborating institutes. In the coming years, the EE department will further explore new research fields related to climate economics, economics of sustainable energy, and economics of natural capital.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter by 30 September 2023. The job interviews are planned for the second week of October 2023. If possible, please take this period into account when applying for the position. The successful candidate will start no later than 1 November 2023.

Submitting a diploma and a reference check are part of the application process.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr Sanchayan Banerjee
Position: Assistant Professor
E-mail: [email protected]

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