PostDoctoral Researcher in Urban Quantitative and Theoretical Economics

 ETH Zurich is one of the leading universities in the world with a strong focus on science and engineering. In 2010 it established the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) in collaboration with the National Research Foundation (NRF) to do interdisciplinary research on pressing problems.

The centre currently runs several research programmes with the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) as one of the programmes. It is home to a community of over 100 PhD, postdoctoral and Professorial researchers working on diverse themes related to sustainable cities and resilient infrastructure systems. In the course of their work, researchers actively collaborate with universities, research institutes, industry, and government agencies with the aim of offering practical solutions.

Project background

The Resource Efficient Urban Intensification (EFF) research group within FCL, SEC, aims to derive quantitative, predictive models of how the densification of cities impacts their social and economic functioning, as well as their resource efficiency. To that end, the research will make use of large-scale human activity data (e.g., aggregated mobile phone data) and other types of urban data.

The project is embedded in a large-scale venture dubbed “Future Cities Lab”, and the subdomain it belongs in is concerned with measuring people’s mobility patterns within the urban space. Such mobility patterns can be measured by georeferenced cell phone data in conjunction with rich data on the supply of services. This type of measurement will be provided by Work Package 1 of the same project and utilized to inform a theoretical and quantitative model of the city. The latter should feature a hierarchy of clusters of services supply (ranging from administration to education, leisure, etc.) to mimic on a micro- and mesogeographical scale the activity patterns of individuals within the city. The model is supposed to be designed in a way to allow counterfactual simulations for rearranged services supply clusters in order to inform about transport demand, energy demand, etc. The latter will be an input into the project’s Work Package 3 which is interested in distilling recommendations regarding the optimal design of the urban space.

FCL Global in Singapore is looking for an exceptional candidate to fill the Postdoctoral Researcher position in the field of Urban Quantitative and Theoretical Economics for 2 years.

Job description

Your work will entail formulating urban economic models with a focus on a micro- and mesogeographical scale. In particular, such models should allow for a polycentric and perhaps a nested mono- and polycentric city structure. Your main tasks of the project will involve the design of equilibrium models that can be calibrated and simulated to quantify counterfactual changes in response to modifications of some of the fundamental city parameters regarding the supply of certain services a city provides (e.g., through modifications of the denominations for the use of certain parcels of land, etc.).

You will contribute to the design of the research project, collaborate with both the academic and the industrial partners in the project. Towards the production of outcome from the project, you will be a co-author of presentations at scientific workshops and conferences as well as in publications in leading peer-reviewed journals.

Your profile

You should have a Ph.D. in Economics, Mathematics, or Physics and be interested in and capable of working with theoretical and quantitative models. Such models involve choice problems (regarding residency, consumption, etc.) and they involve interdependencies between actors (households and companies) through their dependence on common resources, factor incomes, prices, etc.

You should be versatile in reading and using tools from economic theory. Knowing urban economic methods is helpful but not required at this point.

Specifically, you can master numerical solution algorithms in Matlab, R, Python, or Giulia. An important goal of the project will be to solve micro- and meso-regional models of cities, where parcels of the city will be characterized by features (amenities, accessibility, jobs, etc.). A goal is to analyse the response of these micro- and meso-regions of a city to shocks. This will be done on the basis of econometric models (to learn key parameters for the calibration of models) as well as the simulation of calibrated models.

Overall, the versatility in the use of empirical models and the familiarity with simulation techniques will be very important to the project.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) including educational history, full list of publications, awards, etc
  • Cover letter explaining your interests, goals, and how they would relate to and fit in with the EFF group’s research
  • Copy of your publication relevant to the project
  • Contact details of at least 2 references, mentioning for each of them the professional relationship you have with them

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information about the position, please contact Prof Peter Egger by e-mail: pegger@ethz.ch

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