Benjamin Elsner

    Hello! I am a Professor of Economics at University College Dublin. From September 2024, I will lead the UCD School of Economics as Head of School. My research is in applied microeconomics, with a strong focus on human capital. I address three main research questions:

  1. Migration: How does international migration affect the lives of migrants and natives?
  2. Environment: How does the environment, especially pollution, affect skill formation and decision making?
  3. Education: How do peers affect a person's decisions and outcomes?

I answer these questions with causal inference techniques and a combination of survey, regional, and administrative data.

I am passionate about teaching econometrics and data analytics. I run a YouTube channel with over 70 videos on causal inference and public economics. At the moment, I am piloting, a platform that teaches econometrics through animations, videos, and simple explanations. Stay tuned for that!. I am also in the process of creating a new MSc Course Causal Inference and Policy Evaluation, which will be offered for the first time in spring 2024. For my contribution to teaching and learning, I have recently received the Teaching Excellence Award by the UCD College of Social Sciences and Law.

Since joining UCD in 2018, I have built the structured MLitt/PhD Programme in Economics -- the only structured PhD programme in economics in Ireland -- and the M.Sc Economics and Data Analytics, which launches in 2023. Before joining UCD, I spent five wonderful years at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) in Bonn/Germany, where I remain involved as a Research Fellow.

I am a co-editor of the journal Research in Labor Economics.


(2024). The Political Fallout of Air Pollution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Accepted for publication).

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(2023). Forced Migration and Local Public Policies: Evidence from Post-War West Germany. Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming.


(2023). Immigration and Redistribution. in: Robert M. Sauer (ed)., Handbook of Global Migration, World Scientific, Vol. 3.

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(2023). Long-run Exposure to Low-Dose Radiation Reduces Cognitive Performance. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 118, 102785.

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(2021). Achievement Rank Affects Performance and Major Choices in College. Economic Journal, 131(640), 3182-3206.

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(2020). Taking the Skill Bias out of Global Migration. Journal of Development Economics, 142, 102317.

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(2018). Rank, Sex, Drugs, and Crime. Journal of Human Resources, 53(2), 356-381.

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(2018). Migrant Networks and the Spread of (Mis-)Information. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 80(3), 659-688.

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(2018). Tax Refunds and Income Manipulation: Evidence from the EITC. International Tax and Public Finance, 25, 1490-1518.

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(2017). A Big Fish in a Small Pond: Ability Rank and Human Capital Investment. Journal of Labor Economics, 35(3), 787-828.

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(2016). Migration 10 Years After: EU Enlargement, Closed Borders, and Migration to Germany. in: M. Kahanec and K.F. Zimmermann (eds.): Labor Migration, EU Enlargement, and the Great Recession, Springer: Berlin, et al. 2016, 85 - 101.

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(2013). Emigration and Wages: the EU Enlargement Experiment. Journal of International Economics, 91(1), 154-163.

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(2013). Does Emigration Benefit the Stayers? Evidence from EU Enlargement. Journal of Population Economics, 35(3), 787-828.

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Working Papers

(2024). Gender Gaps in Time Use: Pan-European Evidence from School Closures during COVID-19. Revise and Resubmit at the Economic and Social Review.


(2013). Let's Be Selective about Migrant Self-Selection.



My main teaching focus is on econometrics, and I am passionate about teaching this important toolbox to students. To help students on their journey, I run a YouTube Channel with explainer videos, and I am currently working on a website called that teaches econometrics through intuitive explanations and visuals.

For my achievemens in teaching and learning, I received the Teaching Excellence Award by the UCD College of Social Sciences and Law in 2022.

Undergraduate Courses

  • Econometrics (ECON30130), at UCD, since 2018

  • Public Economics (ECON30190), at UCD, 2019-2022

  • Economics of Migration, at University of Regensburg, 2018

  • European Labor Markets, at European Business School, 2014-2017

Masters & PhD Courses

  • Econometrics (ECON50580), PhD, at UCD, since 2019

  • Causal Inference and Policy Evaluation (ECON42470), MSc, at UCD, from 2024

  • Introduction to Econometrics for Business PhD Students, at European Business School, 2014-2020

  • Economics of Migration, PhD, at University of Luxembourg, 2017

Causal Inference Masterclasses

  • Central Bank of Ireland, 2018, 2019, 2023
  • UCD Research Symposium, Dublin, 2021
  • Eurofound, Dublin, 2022
  • Orebro University, Sweden, 2022
  • Irish Postgraduate and Early Career Economists Workshop, Dublin, 2023
  • Geary Institute for Public Policy, Dublin, 2023
  • University of Regensburg, 2023

Programme Design

Since joining UCD, I have created two postgraduate programmes:

  • The MLitt/PhD Programme in Economics, the only structured economics PhD programme in Ireland. The programme has currently over 45 students from 14 countries.
  • The MSc Economics and Data Analytics. This masters programme is jointly offered by the School of Economics and the School of Mathematics and Statistics. The course teaches students a highly attractive skill set in economics, econometrics and data analytics. More about the course in the video below.

YouTube & Intuitive Metrix

On my YouTube Channel, I publish videos on econometrics and public economics that help students with their learning of these important toolboxes. The website provides a platform for undergraduate students who want to learn econometrics through intuitive explanations, animations and videos. The site is currently work in progress but the aim is to have a fully fledged website up and running in late 2023.
Causal Inference
Online course in Causal Inference (M.Sc/PhD-level)
Public Economics
Over 50 videos in Public Economics (B.Sc)
Metrics Nuts and Bolts
Video answers to FAQs in Econometrics
Intuitive Metrix
Learning econometrics, the intuitive way: animations, explanations, videos

PhD Students


Diego Zambiasi (2021, now lecturer with tenure at Newcastle University)

Emanuele Albarosa (2022, now at the International Organization for Migration, Ukraine)

Stefano Ceolotto (2022, PhD at TCD, co-advisor w/ Eleanor Denny; first job: post-doc at ESRI; now post-doc at CMCC)

Michele Gubello (2023, joint supervision with Sarah Parlane; first job: post-doc at ESRI)

In Progress

Mohsin Javed (since 2019, joint supervision with Chris Jepsen)

Dimitrios Argyros (since 2021)

Manvi Jindal (since 2022)

Aditi Kharb (since 2022, joint supervision with Chris Jepsen)