The EF Program aspires to provide a comprehensive and rigorous framework for understanding the behavioral changes that are required to achieve social and environmental transformations and what policies and institutional reforms are needed to bring about the required incentives.

Explicit consideration is given to:  

  • The governance of transitional change.
  • The provision of equal life chances
  • The capacity of the economic system to deal with (prevent and adjust to) disruptive changes.
  • The conception of economic development and wellbeing in a finite and interlinked world. 

The program’s research integrates tightly with the natural, environmental, population, and systems science frameworks that IIASA is leading on, thus providing the multi-disciplinary approach needed for an understanding of the transition to sustainable, fair, and resilient economies. The program aims to act as an international hub for high-level external economic expertise as well as expertise from other relevant sciences (e.g., sociology, psychology, environmental and natural sciences, mathematics) to engage in capacity building, and to establish links with leading international research and policy institutions to leverage internal resources. 

Current EF Research Fields

The EF program started on 1 January 2021 and its research agenda is still being developed. While the program’s current research focuses on the two fields below, as well as topical research pertaining to economic aspects of COVID-19, the program is in the process of developing a research agenda for two additional fields on the Governance of Transitions (GT) and Economic Development and Wellbeing in a Finite and Interlinked World (EFW). Aspects of these fields are already present in the research undertaken under the two existing research fields where relevant.

EF_equal_lifechances © Designer491 |

Economics of Equal Life Chances (EELC)

Research undertaken as part of the EELC field focuses on issues related to distributional consequences of development trends and transformative policies, especially as it relates to vulnerable populations.

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EF_disruptive_change © F9photos |

Economics of disruptive change (EDC)

The EDC field embraces economic behaviors under the risk of large disruptive (regime changing) shocks, including climate tipping points, eco-system breakdown, pandemic shocks, and disruptive technological or political changes.

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Current EF Research Topics (V1)

Research in the Economic Frontiers Program covers a broad range of topics. These topics can also span across the EF Research Fields and are examined from different perspectives within the program.

COVID-19 and pandemics

The EF Program also investigated different aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic and pandemics in general.


Optimal pandemic management

Researchers in the EF published multiple papers on different aspects of the management of the spread of an infectious disease.

Map of Africa showing regional members and IIASA logo surrounded by relevant flags © Adam Islaam | IIASA

Importance of monitoring break-through infections



Implications on intergenerational equality


FAB © Foto 30907042 / Wild © Igorartmd |

The interplay of (higher) transmission rates and vaccine resistance in the evolution of novel SARS-CoV-2 strains


Inequality and equal life chances

Short Teaser text.

IDRiM22 © Foto 40484401 © Tawatchai Khid-arn |

Drivers of intra- and intergenerational inequality



Impact of automation on human capital transmissions



JustTrans4ALL © Caroline Zimm


The Economic Frontiers Program participates in the JustTrans4All Project on ....


Climate impacts and transitions

Short Teaser!

Tropical jungle © Iakov Kalinin |

Optimal taxation of polluting emissions

View of the snow-covered street of the northern arctic city © Andrei Stepanov |

Investigating the DICE model

 skyscrapers © Holger Link on Unsplash

Contributions to AAR 2


BECC in India


Modelling household behaviour in the face of disaster risk

Health and health care

The Economic Frontiers Program conducts research on multiple different aspects of health and health care.

Penguins © © Ondřej Prosický |

Economic Burden of Disease

Applications to COPD, cancer, diabetes

Global network ©

Health care systems

  • Efficient size from wellbeing perspective
  • Benefits from health insurance in driving medical progress
  • Efficient provision of health care in public systems
Earth ©

Health shocks


Current EF Research Topics (V2)

Research in the Economic Frontiers Program covers a broad range of topics. These topics can also span across the EF Research Fields and are examined from different perspectives within the program.


Climate change and just transitions