Evolutionary macroeconomic assessment of employment and innovation impacts of climate policy packages

Bernhard Rengs, Manuel Scholz-Wäckerle*, Jeroen van den Bergh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Climate policy has been mainly studied with economic models that assume representative, rational agents. Such policy aims, though, at changing carbon-intensive consumption and production patterns driven by bounded rationality and other-regarding preferences, such as status and imitation. To examine climate policy under such alternative behavioral assumptions, we develop a model tool by adapting an existing general-purpose macroeconomic multi-agent model. The resulting tool allows testing various climate policies in terms of combined climate and economic performance. The model is particularly suitable to address the distributional impacts of climate policies, not only because populations of many agents are included, but also as these are composed of different classes of households. The approach accounts for two types of innovations, which improve either the carbon or labor intensity of production. We simulate policy scenarios with distinct combinations of carbon taxation, a reduction of labor taxes, subsidies for green innovation, a price subsidy to consumers for less carbon-intensive products, and green government procurement. The results show pronounced differences with those obtained by rational-agent model studies. It turns out that a supply-oriented subsidy for green innovation, funded by the revenues of a carbon tax, results in a significant reduction of carbon emissions without causing negative effects on employment. On the contrary, demand-oriented subsidies for adopting greener technologies, funded in the same manner, result in either none or considerably less reduction of carbon emissions and may even lead to higher unemployment. Our study also contributes insight on a potential double dividend of shifting taxes from labor to carbon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-368
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


This work was supported by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 290647 , for the WWWforEurope project ( www.foreurope.eu ), and by an ERC Advanced Grant from the European Research Council under grant agreement no. 741087, as part of the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. Appendix 1

FundersFunder number
ERC advanced
European Union's Horizon 2020
European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration
Seventh Framework Programme741087, 290647
European Research Council
Seventh Framework Programme
Horizon 2020


    • Agent-based modeling
    • Carbon tax
    • Climate change
    • Double dividend
    • Environmental innovation
    • Macroeconomics
    • Social preferences

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