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Research assistant

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)


IIASA’s Program on Risk, Policy and Vulnerability (RPV) is offering a position to carry out applied research within its project on Insurance for Adaptation funded by the Austrian Climate Research Programme (ACRP).

RPV examines environmental and socio-economic interactions across multiple scales, providing the analytical foundation for improved management and governance of natural disasters, climate change, and technological and ecological transitions. Their specialty is applying advanced methods for assessing and analyzing risks and uncertainties, and designing risk governance processes, to improve policy outcomes on global change issues, such as extreme events, renewable energy investments, economic development and environmental degradation.

One focus area of RPV work is on transferring disaster risk, particularly insurance, as a way of advancing adaptation to climate change. Working in Europe and many developing countries, RPV has led the agenda on novel risk transfer arrangements that provide a stable safety net against weather catastrophes for affected households, farmers and governments.

In the ACRP funded project Insurance for Adaptation, RPV will study the efficiency and equity of available and alternative strategies and options for transferring disaster risk in Austria and Europe, as well as examining their link with risk reduction and adaptation. To date, there is little empirical evidence on the effectiveness of risk-transfer instruments for incentivizing the reduction of losses from extreme weather events and other hazards. This proposed research will build an evidence base on this link by examining experience at the (1) entrepreneurial scale (scrutinizing insurer and large firm practices), (2) national scale (examining European public-private risk transfer systems and institutional arrangements), and (3) European Union scale assessing EU wide risk sharing, and the performance of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF)). Beyond descriptive, empirical and model-based analysis, the research will suggest reform options at all three scales, including the possibility of forming European insurance pools. In the context of Austrian and comparative experience across Europe, and in deliberation with stakeholders, the project will propose reforms that can improve the adaptation propensity of Austria's insurance arrangements, as well as promote an efficient and fair sharing of losses in Austria and the EU.
RPV is recruiting a researcher with an interest in this general topic area, who would join the research team and focus especially on (1) and (3) above. Preferably, the successful candidate would carry out the work as part of a PhD thesis, and supervision at a University in Vienna or elsewhere can be arranged.


• Collect and analyze data across Europe on insurer and large-firm practices with respect to the reduction of risks from extreme climate events
• Assist in the analysis of European level risk sharing and transfer and the potential of European insurance pools
• Publish (single and co-authored papers) in relevant journals/books and other media (e.g., press, internet)
• Present research results in international fora.


The successful applicant should have a Master’s degree or equivalent in economics or other relevant field. Ideally, the candidate would carry out the research as part of a PhD thesis. It is highly desirable that the applicant have an understanding of the economic and insurance literature and current issues related to disaster risk management, climate change and vulnerability. Knowledge of both quantitative (e.g., statistics, modeling, risk analysis, stochastic simulation) and qualitative (e.g. interview technique) research methods is essential. Finally, strong English and German language communication and writing skills are necessary, and proficiency in other languages is welcome.

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  • Additional location info Laxenburg
  • Closing Date 28 Sep 2012

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