PhD Student

Last application date
Jul 01, 2024 00:00
EB21 - Department of Economics
Limited duration
Master's degree in economics, business economics, business engineering or a related Master of Science degree
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

The Department of Economics (Environmental Economics group) of Ghent University welcomes a candidate for a full time PhD position on sustainable consumption corridors, sufficiency, and the assessment of demand-side measures in environmental policies in the region of Flanders. The PhD student will be involved in the DEER project (Demand-side measures to Enhance well-being and foster Environmental footprint Reduction), involving academia, industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations, funded by FWO (Flanders).

To transition to a low-carbon circular economy, drastic carbon and material footprint reductions are necessary. The main strategies for these transitions have been focusing on the supply-side of the economy, for example stimulating technology development, technology improvements and efficiency gains. Demand-side measures focus on the consumption process of specific products by reducing, shifting or improving consumption. Thus far, these demand-side measures remain largely overlooked. However, according to the latest IPCC report, these demand-side measures have a very high potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (40-70% in the field of housing, land transport and food). The DEER project will assess the impacts of specific demand-side measures in the field of thermal comfort and transport. For this, a specific carbon and material footprint target will be defined for these two systems to enable an absolute environmental sustainability assessment. These targets will be based on downscaled global or regional carbon and material footprint targets. The DEER project partners will quantify a minimal level of needs fulfilment for these two systems, leading towards the definition of sustainable consumption corridors. Subsequently, the costs and consumer acceptance of these measures will be studied within the project. Finally, DEER will result in specific policy recommendations on how to implement the demand-side measures in the field of thermal comfort and transport with the highest impact and the lowest cost, both from an economic as well as from a consumer behavioral point of view.

The main subobjectives of this PhD position are:

  • Defining sufficiency thresholds for selected human needs (thermal comfort and mobility)
  • Identifying different discourses related to demand-side measures (media, policy, politics) to understand how society perceives, communicates, and strives to achieve environmental impact reductions through demand-side interventions
  • Exploring the willingness to adopt behavioural changes on a voluntary basis and the public acceptance mitigation policies using survey experiments
  • Assessing the impacts of behavioral changes (either through voluntary adoption or through the implementation of specific policies) on subjective well-being and the satisfaction of needs.

In this PhD position, you will work in close collaboration with colleagues at Ghent University in the Environmental Economics research group and with the other DEER partners in the Sustainable Systems Engineering (STEN) group of Ghent, and the Environmental Economics group and the Center for Social Sciences at Antwerp University. Furthermore, there is a diverse international advisory board (e.g., Vlaanderen Circulair, Flemish Government, VITO, Mobiel21,, IIASA, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, international professors from different disciplines …) to interact with. Part of the work can be done via teleworking.

The scientific findings should lead to publications in international peer reviewed journals and should be presented at international conferences.

The starting date is planned at October 1st 2024. The PhD candidate has four years to conduct his/her doctoral research that will be carried out under the supervision of prof. Brent Bleys and prof. Bart Defloor.

Job profile

Candidates are expected to have a background in economics and an affinity for sustainability transitions in general, and sufficiency measures in particular. We are looking for candidates with a critical and analytical attitude and a sense of initiative.

Other profile requirements:

  • You hold a master's degree in economics, business economics, business engineering or a related Master of Science degree.
  • The degree requirements must be met at the start of the appointment;
  • You have an interest in scientific research in environmental or ecological economics;
  • You can operate both independently and in a multidisciplinary team;
  • You have organisational/managerial skills and are highly motivated;
  • You have good writing and presentation skills;
  • You have good communication skills and are interested in involving multiple stakeholders;
  • You like to think on a conceptual level about broader sustainability topics such as a sufficiency or a low-carbon society
  • You master the English language, written and orally, in an academic context;

Additional positive points:

  • You hold a Research Master in Economics;
  • You are familiar with the fields of environmental economics, ecological economics, welfare economics, and/or public economics;
  • You have experience with survey development and the design of survey experiments;
  • You have experience with Critical Discourse analysis;
  • You have experience with demand-side measures and the environmental impact of consumer behavior;
  • You have experience with the development of conceptual methodologies for measuring and evaluating welfare;
  • You have experience with policy-oriented research


  • We offer a full-time position as a doctoral fellow, consisting of an initial period of 12 months, which - after a positive evaluation - will be extended to a total maximum of 48 months.
  • Your contract will start on October 1, 2024 at the earliest.
  • The fellowship amount is 100% of the net salary of an AAP member in equal family circumstances. The individual fellowship amount is determined by the Department of Personnel and Organization based on family status and seniority. A grant that meets the conditions and criteria of the regulations for doctoral fellowships is considered free of personal income tax. Click here for more information about our salary scales.
  • All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).

How to apply

Apply by sending ultimately July 1st (23:59) an email to as follows:
Mention in subject line: “DEER – Application name surname”.
Attach into 1 single pdf file:

  • Item 1: Cover letter
  • Item 2: CV
  • Item 3: contact details of 1 or 2 reference persons.
  • Item 4: ‘Diploma’ items, e.g. an overview of your study results, transcript of the required degree (if already in your possession). If you have a foreign diploma in a language other than our national languages (Dutch, French or German) or English, please add a translation in one of the mentioned languages.

Note that the maximum file size is 10 MB.

Selection procedure:
1. Preselection based on the provided documents.
2. Selection based on interviews (that will take place on July 4th or 5th)

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.

For more information about the content of this position, please contact