The Department was founded in January 2003, and since 2005 the initial purely economy-oriented research has also embraced selected sociological research topics. Our research activities are primarily based on methodological individualism in environmental and welfare economics, as well as environmental sociology. Our pre-dominant interest in empirical research has led to the completion of over 20 original surveys. Moreover, the Department functions as a national contact point for the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
The Department works in the following areas:
1) By applying non-market valuation methods, we focus on analysing individual preferences in respect of (environmental) non-market goods. The principal object of research interest is the valuation of pollution impacts and effects of working processes on human health resulting in premature deaths, risk alterations, and various disease symptoms. We also deal with valuation of non-production ecosystem (forest) functions and benefits, inter alia of water quality or endangered species.
2) Individual and household behaviour is analysed with greatest complexity in the area of transport, energy and recreational demand by means of the estimation of demand systems and application of discrete choice and random utility models. Other areas of research include transportation behaviour of urban populations, choice of transportation modes, demand for cycling infrastructure, and demand for organic food, availability of drinking water or recreational spaces. It is in this area that we make the closest connection between economic theory and sociology, such as in the application of the theory of planned behaviour.
3) The dependence between economic performance and environmental burden is studied by testing the Environmental Kuznets Curve hypothesis, as well as application of statistical decomposition methods and econometric analysis to explain changes in emission output and energy consumption. Corporate behaviour is analysed by means of the estimation of sectoral and firm production functions or cost functions of transport operators. The intention to advance medium-term prediction and integrated models is a novel research topic.
4) A fourth area of research is the implementation and advancement of methods in quantification of external costs of production. Our quantification is grounded in the impact pathway analysis, which is the core of the ExternE method. Quantification of externalities concerns mainly energy, transportation, and municipal waste treatment industries.
5) Analysis of the effects of economic instruments in environmental regulation has been the longest-pursued of all our research topics. The research is dominated by analysis of impacts of environmental tax reform, particularly effectiveness analysis of instruments, distributional and social impacts (including measurements of tax progressivity and income inequality), impacts on public finances and economic sectors. Since 2003, we have been involved in expert groups on the possible options for effective and efficient environmental regulation. In our policy case studies, we apply cost-benefit analysis with the intention of furthering development of environmental cost-benefit analysis.