The Policy Evaluation Lab

The Policy Evaluation Lab combines advanced methodologies for causal impact and welfare analysis with the power of big data and machine learning to improve public policy making on pressing environmental policy challenges.


Team members

Head: Dr. Nicolas Koch

Maximilian Amberg
Maximilian Diehl
Dorothea Kistinger
Dr.Hannah Klauber
Patrick Klösel
Dr. Nolan Ritter
Annika Stechemesser
Audrey Thenot
Ben Thies
Zoe Wang


The Problem

Today, many environmental regulations are only evaluated in advance of their implementation. Policy interventions affecting millions of people and billions of euros of public money have gone without any rigorous outcome evaluation. Ex-post assessments are, however, a cornerstone of effective policy as regulatory details and behavioral responses almost always drive a significant wedge between expected impacts and actual policy outcomes.


Our Approach

With the rise of modern empirical economics in the age of big data, the purpose of the Policy Evaluation Lab is to strengthen data-assisted policy assessments and a culture of persistent policy experimentation and evaluation.

Our research program emphasises two important aspects:

  • We have a sharp focus on rigorous causal impact evaluations of flagship policies or questions that have salient policy implications, taking very seriously the old wisdom that ”correlation is not causality”.
  • Equally important, we not only show the actual impacts of policies as they are implemented but also inform policymakers of potentially more efficient policy alternatives and their social welfare effects.

Thus, our research blends both quasi-experimental methods for evaluating real-world policy impacts, and structural methods for welfare analysis of alternative policy components and options.

We partner with public providers of large-scale administrative microdata (e.g. firm investments, social security records or patient-level health insurance records), but also data and technology companies (e.g. GPS movements data) to bring hitherto unavailable information into environmental economics research.


Current research areas

  • Carbon pricing (e.g. EU ETS)
  • Command-and-control restrictions (e.g. driving bans)
  • Subsidies on green technology (e.g. electric vehicles)
  • Distributional implications of climate policy (e.g. coal exit)
  • Economic cost of air pollution
  • Traffic congestion and road pricing


Learn more about our research in this Youtube video.