Behavioural economics for sustainable interventions in hospital care

Behavioural economics for sustainable interventions in hospital care

Published Deadline Location
1 Nov 15 Jan Rotterdam

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Job description

The healthcare sector is among the most carbon-intensive sectors, contributing to 4.4% of global net greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollutants (Karliner et al., 2020). These levels are similar to those of the food sector (Pichler et al., 2019). Within Europe, 6% of all UK (Karliner et al., 2020) and 7% of all Dutch CO2 emissions are caused by the healthcare sector (Gupta Strategists, 2019). Policies and information campaigns potentially encourage more sustainable behavior. However, without compliance, policies do not have the desired effect. This PhD project will use insights from behavioral economics to facilitate this behavioral change, including evidence from field experiments in hospital care.

This PhD research project has two main objectives. First, it seeks to evaluate the barriers and facilitators for behavioural changes that promote the transition from a linear towards a circular healthcare sector using mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative research). Second, it will test the most prominent interventions in different department using field experiments. Short- and long-term effects will be measured quantitatively and used to evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions.

Job description
Policies and information campaigns potentially encourage more sustainable behavior. However, without compliance, policies do not have the desired effect. Specifically in a healthcare context, the focus on infection prevention and patient safety may also hinder the adoption of more sustainable practices (Bolten et al., 2022).

The PhD project will answer the following research questions:
  1. What are the barriers and facilitators of the behavioral change towards sustainable behavior?

We will combine qualitative and quantitative research methods for the analysis of factors driving behaviour, including individual interviews, focus groups, and vignette studies. Vignettes is a quantitative empirical method in which respondents are presented with hypothetical scenarios in which potential factors of influence can be systematically manipulated to determine their influence on decision-making.
  1. What are the short and long-term effects of the most promising interventions?

Based on the output from the first research question, and in consultation with hospital personnel, the most promising interventions for each department will be tested using field experiments. Short- and long-term effects will be measured quantitatively and used to evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions. To determine the external validity of interventions, one intervention will be tested across two clinical departments and one intervention will be tested across two hospitals.

Expected output
The PhD thesis should consist of four papers publishable in peer reviewed journals, with at least one accepted for publication, prior to submission. The PhD student will also present research at (international) health economics conferences and workshops.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)


We welcome PhD candidates who aspire a career in research. To become one of our PhD candidates, you will need to be admitted to Erasmus School of Economics' graduate schools, the Tinbergen Institute or the Erasmus Research Institute in Management (ERIM).

Erasmus School of Economics’ admission requirements are:
  • MPhil or Research Master’s degree in Economics, Econometrics, Mathematics or Physics is preferred. Please upload your bachelor’s and master’s degree.
    • Candidates with an MSc or MA degree are required to successfully complete 1 year of courses at the graduate school they are part of (Research Qualifications at the Tinbergen Institute or courses at ERIM)
  • Excellent study results for both the bachelor’s and master’s degree. Please upload your transcript of records for the bachelor’s and master’s degree.
  • Interest in and strong motivation for scientific research explained in a statement of purpose.
  • GRE test is required for all entering PhD students. Valid GRE (revised) General Test results are required from all PhD applicants (all 3 sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing). Successful applicants typically perform among the top-10% of test-takers on the quantitative part of the GRE; applicants with a Q score below 160 will not be considered. The results should not be older than 5 years.
  • Excellent command of English. Applicants whose native language is not English are therefore required to demonstrate English proficiency by:
    • proof that the language of instruction of their entire university education (bachelor and master programme) was English, or
    • scoring at least 100 on the TOEFL iBT test or 7.5 on the IELTS test.
  • Two (academic) reference letters, preferably from a thesis supervisor or research project supervisor
  • Curriculum Vitae

In addition to the general requirements, this PhD project expects you to have:
  • Advanced quantitative skills, including experience with a statistical package (e.g., Stata or R),
  • Interest in sustainability
  • Interest in working in a transdisciplinary consortium
  • Desirable: Candidates with a research master’s degree in economics
  • Desirable: Some experience on mixed methods

Conditions of employment

We offer you an internationally oriented and varied job in an enthusiastic team, with excellent working conditions in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU).

The start date of this position is 01-09-2024 and you will be based at Campus Woudestein in Erasmus School of Economics (ESE). This position is for 1 fte - 1 fte. The salary is dependent on your experience and knowledge and ranges from a minimum of € 2.770 to a maximum of € 3.539 gross per month (Scale PhD) on a fulltime basis (38 hours), in accordance with the CAO-NU.

Everything else we offer you, you can find below!


Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is an internationally oriented university with a strong social orientation in its education and research, as expressed in our mission ‘Creating positive societal impact’. EUR is home to 3.700 academics and professionals and almost 33.000 students from more than 140 countries. Everything we do, we do under the credo The Erasmian Way – Making Minds Matter. We’re global citizens, connecting, entrepreneurial, open-minded, and socially involved. These Erasmian Values function as our internal compass and create EUR’s distinctive and recognizable profile. From these values, with a broad perspective and with an eye for diversity, different backgrounds and opinions, our employees work closely together to solve societal challenges from the dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Rotterdam. Thanks to the high quality and positive societal impact of our research and education, EUR can compete with the top European universities.

Faculty / Institute / Central service
Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) is a leading school in economics in the Netherlands. It has a strong international reputation and aims to do outstanding research. Moreover, it provides excellent education at the BA., MA. and Ph.D. levels. Much research at Erasmus School of Economics is policy relevant, has social impact, and offers a strong research culture, ample research resources, and comparatively low teaching loads.


  • PhD
  • Economics
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3860


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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