International Economics


The International Economics research group sits within the Department of Economics of Ghent University. Established in 2014, the group focuses on globalization and the interconnectedness of economies, studying the impact of global trade, investment, migration, and cross-border integration on economic development and policies. We strive to develop cutting-edge research that tackles policy-relevant issues and addresses emerging global challenges.

Our goal is to provide our students with the advanced empirical and analytical tools they need to succeed in a range of career paths, including academia, policy institutions, and beyond. The interdisciplinary expertise and practical experience of our faculty members provide valuable insights that shape our teaching and doctoral training programs, equipping our students with a broad range of skills and perspectives that are highly valued in the global job market.

Our collaborations with other institutions and organizations create extensive professional networks that can benefit our students and help them secure policy-relevant jobs. The International Economics research group actively participates in the Erasmus Mundus joint master program Economics of Globalization and European Integration. In addition, our research group maintains close ties and collaboration with the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) and many of our members hold a double affiliation with the institute. This cooperation enhances our research output and provides us with unique opportunities for knowledge exchange, interdisciplinary collaboration, and engagement with the policy community.

Research themes

A first stream of research concentrates on the determinants and consequences of international trade, including its impact on inequality, productivity, innovation and sustainable growth, and how trade and the environment interact. A key focal point of this research is the role regional integration agreements play in economic flows in general and international trade in particular.

A second stream looks into firm performance and foreign direct investment (FDI), offshoring and trade, as well as technology/employment spillover effects from FDI to local firms and technology transfers within multinationals (MNEs). It also studies the effects of notional interest deduction on equity/debt and employment at MNEs.

A third research area revolves around the factors shaping migration decisions and immobility, as well as the implications of (non-)migration for the livelihoods of individuals and communities in host and sending economies. It also covers interdisciplinary research around the nexus between climate change, migration and health(care), as well as (quantitative) historical analyses of international migration.

The research group also performs research on regional integration processes, as well as the intersection between the three main pillars of globalization, including the construction of composite indicators to measure among others regional integration as well as the institutional determinants of such regional integration.

Research quality

The International Economics research group's rigorous and innovative research has made important contributions to the advancement of the field. Our work is frequently published in top-tier academic journals and presented at leading international conferences. A list of the research group's publications can found here.

PhDs placement

After obtaining their PhD, a large fraction of our doctoral students aim for an academic career or a career as researcher in a policy institution. Our ambition is that they are able to compete with candidates from high-ranked European universities. Also outside the academic world, our PhDs possess highly competitive and valuable assets as advisors or researchers to improve policy in public and/or private organizations. A couple of examples from the last five years:

  • Angelos Theodorakopoulos became Assistant professor at the Aston Business School
  • Els Bekaert and dr. Ruben Dewitte landed in a postdoc position at Ghent University
  • Victoria Purice is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Bank of Belgium
  • Karolien Lenaerts is head of the research group Work, Organisation and Social Dialogue at HIVA
  • Stijn Ronsse is principal executive of Capture
  • Killian Foubert is Assessment officer at IMPACT Initiatives
  • Bram De Lange became Advisor European Affairs at the Federal Public Service Economy and then moved on as Socioeconomic Analyst at the Brussels Institute for Statistics & Analysis

A full list of our PhD graduates can be found here.


The past 5 years have been very successful in terms of research grants, here are just a few from external funding agencies:

  • FWO Weave Grant awarded to Prof. dr. Ilse Ruyssen in 2023
  • VLIR-UOS TEAMS Grant awarded to Prof. dr. Ilse Ruyssen in 2022
  • H2020 Grant awarded to Prof. dr. Frank Caestecker in 2021
  • VLIR-UOS Global Minds Grant awarded to Prof. dr. Ilse Ruyssen in 2021
  • VLIR-UOS Grant awarded to Prof. dr. Ilse Ruyssen in 2021
  • FWO Grant awarded to Prof. dr. Bruno Merlevede in 2018

International Collaboration

Leveraging international collaboration with other leading groups around the world primarily occurs through joint research projects as well as the organization of international conferences and workshops, academic visits, and inviting researchers from top-schools for short visiting positions. Such events are instrumental to bringing doctoral talent in personal contact with leading foreign scholars, e.g. as a preparation for a joint paper and/or a position at a leading school abroad.

One notable example of our research group's commitment to collaboration and transdisciplinary work is the CliMigHealth International Thematic Network. Coordinated by our group, this network brings together scholars from around the world to integrate diverse expertise and strengthen research, education, and awareness of the intersection between climate change, migration, and health. As an international network, CliMigHealth embodies our group's dedication to engaging with experts from different backgrounds and perspectives to address complex global challenges.

Another example is the active engagement of the research group with UNU-CRIS, the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies, in which Ghent University holds a structural partnership. Within this framework, Prof. dr. Glenn Rayp, as a professorial research fellow, leads the research cluster on economic interactions at UNU-CRIS. Similarly, Prof. dr. Samuel Standaert takes charge of coordinating the RIKS (Regional Integration Knowledge System) cluster.

Societal Relevance

A large part of the academic research done in the research group has direct relevance for stakeholders. For instance, in one of these projects, run together with the University of Bergen, the research group tested the relevance of the institutional architecture of Refugee Status Determination for optimal refugee recognition. Other researchers collaborate with IDEA consult to draft the 2023 voluntary subnational review in which Flemish cities and provinces’ progress towards the sustainable development goals is evaluated. Other team members work on joint research projects with research staff of a variety of (inter)national policy institutions, such as the National Bank of Belgium or the International Organization for Migration.

In addition to our impactful academic research, some researchers are very active in (international) policy discussions and highly visible in public debates on international economic matters. Examples include: