Leon Bremer
PhD Candidate


I am a PhD candidate at the department of Spatial Economics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), where I am supervised by Carolyn Fischer and Henri de Groot. I started my PhD in September 2019 after finishing my MPhil degree at the Tinbergen Institute.

Soon I will start a postdoc position on water resources, in which I will apply empirical methods for water policy evaluations.

My PhD dissertation focuses on the interactions of innovation, technology adoption, competition and the environment. I use empirical methods to answer my research questions. I work with patent data, firm financial data, survey data, and administrative microdata.

I am excited about coding, which find their way into my projects and my teaching (and this website). On a daily basis I work with Python, R or LaTeX.

Since January 2019 I am involved with teaching Bachelor and Master courses, first as a student assistant and now as a PhD candidate. I also supervise master theses of students in the STREEM and Economics master programs.

Before moving to Amsterdam I did a Bachelor and Master in Economics at Tilburg University and I did a traineeship at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

In my spare time I enjoy sports like running and (indoor) football.

Research projects

Energy prices, competition, and environment-related innovation

This project combines the literature on induced innovation and the literature on the relation between competition and innovation. Using patent data I find some evidence that energy input prices, electricity and natural gas prices, positively affect environment-related innovation on the firm level. This relationship strengthens under more fierce market competition for electricity prices. For gas prices this relationship weakens with market competition. Additionally, I find no strong evidence for an inverted-U relationship between competition and innovation.

The project uses an algorithm for fuzzy string matching to link databases by text data.

Competitiveness and investments under emissions trading

with Konstantin Sommer

Available as Tinbergen Institute discussion paper (link)

Presentation slides (link)

We study the effects of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) on employment and profits as well as on the investment decisions of Dutch manufacturing firms. Motivated both by sizable differences between firms that are regulated in different phases and by the gradual increase in regulatory stringency, we pay close attention to treatment effect heterogeneity between firms and over time. We use microdata from Statistics Netherlands to apply two difference-in-differences (DiD) estimators: (1) a matched two-way fixed effects regression and (2) a recently developed, more flexible DiD method, designed for staggered treatment and treatment effect heterogeneity. We find that firms that were first regulated in phase 1 and 2 experience temporary employment losses of between 7 to 9% early in the regulation, but we do not find conclusive evidence for changes in profits. Firms that were regulated the earliest reduced their investments throughout all phases.

Barriers to energy efficiency investments

with Sacha den Nijs

More on our project webpage (link).

With the help of ASI's Seed Money funding (award of €10,000), we set out to measure the energy efficiency (EE) gap and main barriers to EE investments in the Netherlands. Through a questionnaire of firms in the Netherlands, we find that the current EE gap (defined as the share of energy that can still be saved by making profitable investments) is larger than the energy savings of the past five years. We further find that uncertainty about future policies ranks as the leading barrier to EE investments, followed by energy price uncertainty. Internal and external financing constraints rank towards the middle and bottom, respectively. Especially energy-intensive firms indicate the importance of policy uncertainty and internal budget constraints, while being more likely in need of replacing current equipment. Industrial firms especially encounter external financing constraints. To combat any response biases, we propose a categorical normalization that rids the barrier variables off any respondent-level behavioral biases. The mentioned heterogeneity results still hold after this normalization.

Connect with my research

Teaching & supervision

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • 2019, 2020, 2021: Academic Skills (1st year BSc Economics and Business Economics)
  • 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023: Environmental Economics (MSc STREEM)
  • 2019, 2020, 2021: Inclusive Growth and Sustainability (3rd year BSc elective)
  • 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023: Supervision of Research Projects (MSc STREEM, MSc Economics)
  • 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022: Supervision of MSc theses (MSc STREEM, MSc Economics)

Tinbergen Institute

  • 2019: Microeconomics IV: Behavioral Economics (MPhil Economics)


The School of Business and Economics offered teacher training for PhD candidates. I have taken all three modules and am finishing the reports. This will allow short-tracking the Dutch University Teaching Qualification (BKO).

Presentations & reviews


  • Spanish-Portuguese Association of Natural and Environmental Resources Economics [2022 Barcelona, Spain]
  • European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists [2020 online, 2022 Rimini, Italy]
  • Sustainable Resource Use and Economic Dynamics [2022 Ascona, Switzerland]
  • European Society for Ecological Economics [2022 Pisa, Italy]
  • Research Retreat "Sustainable Economy - Harnessing innovation, finance and skills for the low-carbon transition" [2022 Morzine, France]
  • Environmental Economics workshop [2022 Tilburg, Netherlands]

Peer reviews

  • Environmental and Resource Economics [2022]


Short CV

Work experience

  • 2023-25: Postdoc @ VU Amsterdam
  • 2019-22: PhD candidate @ VU Amsterdam
  • 2019-19: Teaching assistant @ Tinbergen Institute
  • 2019-19: Teaching assistant @ VU Amsterdam
  • 2016-17: Trainee @ European Central Bank
  • 2013-16: Working student @ ONS Accountants


  • 2017-19: MPhil Economics @ Tinbergen Institute
  • 2015-17: MSc Economics @ Tilburg University
  • 2012-15: BSc Economics and Business Economics @ Tilburg University
    • Including an exchange semester @ HEC Montreal


  • Languages: Dutch (native), English (fluent), German (beginner)
  • Software: Python, R, LaTeX, MS Offices (advanced), HTML, CSS, JavaScript (beginner)
  • Other: Presenting, visualization

Personal goals

  • Get a PhD in economics
  • Master a third language (Spanish, German)
  • Run a marathon (did it!)
Built by Leon