Hicks-Tinbergen Award 2024 Announced

In 1991, the EEA created a medal to be awarded once every two years (even years) to the author(s) of an outstanding article published in the Association’s Journal during the two preceding years. It is named Hicks-Tinbergen to make it clear that the EEA stands for both theoretical and empirical work in economics in Europe.

The EEA is pleased to announce the 2024 Award:

Paper: The Private and External Costs of Germany's Nuclear Phase-Out  (JEEA Volume 20 Issue 3)

Authors: Stephen Jarvis, Olivier Deschenes, Akshaya Jha

This path-breaking paper addresses a central question: what is the proper role of nuclear fission in the context of the transition to low-carbon sources of energy ? The authors use the unique setting of the phase-out of German nuclear generation in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident to assess the costs and benefits of nuclear fission. The paper convincingly shows that this phase-out was very likely a major policy blunder. On a substantive level, the paper carefully and credibly documents the unintended consequences of the phase-out in terms of increased electricity generation from coal-based plants, as well as imports of electricity. To offset the resulting excess mortality from local air pollution, one would need to greatly overestimate the risk and costs of a nuclear disaster, or to be implausibly risk averse. Arguments based on behavioral distortions, such as loss aversion, probability weighting, and framing effects resulting from the salience of nuclear accidents, can explain why German voters still tend to favor the phase-out of nuclear energy despite its apparent net costs. On a methodological level, the paper breaks new ground by using machine learning techniques to estimate the sources of electricity generation that substituted for shuttered nuclear plants. A deep knowledge of the science behind local pollution, a solid understanding of the processes of electricity generation, and a keen grasp of the environmental trade-offs involved in shutting down nuclear plants, all underlie the compelling economic analysis displayed in this remarkable contribution.

Award Committee: Romain Wacziarg (Chair), Maristella Botticini and Imran Rasul

The EEA warmly congratulates the authors.

The paper is freely available for the next 10 weeks - please click on link above for access.

For full information on the Hicks-Tinbergen Award, and on previous awarded papers, please visit here