Benjamin Krebs

Postdoctoral Associate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Welcome to my page! I am a Postdoctoral Associate at the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR). My main field of interest is empirical environmental economics. I conduct research on the effect of air pollution and other environmental factors on human-related outcomes. Further, I engage in analyzing the effectiveness as well as costs and benefits of environmental policies. I grew up in Switzerland and currently live in Massachusetts.

Work in Progress

Air pollution monitor adoption: Public or private goods? (with Joshua Graff Zivin and Matthew Neidell)

The advent of low-cost air pollution monitors has led to their rapid adoption in the past few years, with many hailing it as an important tool for improving public information about pollution exposure given limited existing monitor networks. In this paper, we explore several factors related to their adoption and how it affects public information diffusion. Our preliminary results indicate that monitor adoption is not only a normal good but also more likely to occur in less polluted areas, with both factors exacerbating inequality in information. External shocks to pollution levels, such as wildfires, increase the purchase of monitors. However, the spatial correlation in monitor adoption and pollution levels suggests the marginal monitor adopted provides minimal additional public information.

Air Pollution and Running Performance (with Michael Keller and Simon Luechinger)

Fossil-Fuel Heating, Heat Pumps, and the Shift in Local Air Pollution

Measurement Error and Instrumental Variables in Estimating Air Pollution Effects (with Joshua Graff Zivin, Matthew Neidell, and Simon Luechinger)

Where There Is Smoke, There Are Movers: Climate Adaption in Response to Wildfire Smoke (with Christopher Knittel)

Working Papers

Krebs, Benjamin (2022). Temperature and Cognitive Performance. MIT CEEPR Working Paper 2022-019.
- Research Brief on CEEPR

I estimate the effect of temperature on cognitive performance in online brain training games. As this setting represents everyday cognitive tasks, the results are indicative of how temperature affects people on a daily basis. With rising average temperatures and more frequent extreme heat, a thorough understanding of this relationship is central. I find that, above a threshold, a 1°C increase in ambient air temperature leads to a performance reduction of 0.13%. The effect is mostly driven by individuals living in relatively cold areas, who are less adapted to hot temperatures.

Krebs, Benjamin and Simon Luechinger (2021). Air Pollution, Cognitive Performance, and the Role of Task Proficiency.
- Available at SSRN
- R&R: Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

We estimate the acute effect of air pollution on cognitive performance and how the effect varies with training and task proficiency using data of over 25,000 individuals and 927,000 plays of a popular online arithmetic training game. To isolate exogenous pollution fluctuation, we interact spatial variation in NOx emissions with thermal inversion episodes. This exogenous variation negatively affects cognitive performance of proficient players, but not of beginners. Instrumenting NO2 pollution with the emissions × inversion interaction, we find that a 1 ppb concentration increase lowers the number of correct answers of proficient individuals by 0.5 and by 0.2 overall.

Peer-reviewed Articles

Krebs, Benjamin, Jennifer Burney, Joshua Graff Zivin, and Matthew Neidell (2021). Using crowd-sourced data to assess the temporal and spatial relationship between indoor and outdoor particulate matter. Environmental Science & Technology 55(9), 6107–6115.

Krebs, Benjamin and Simon Luechinger (2020). The effect of an electricity tax on aggregate electricity consumption: Evidence from Basel. Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics 156(1), 1-20.
- Media: SRF, 10/10/2018; Ökonomenstimme, 04/15/2021

Other Publications

Krebs, Benjamin and Joel O’Neill (2014). Neue Universitätsrankings für die Schweiz: Geist und Geld. CREMA Working Paper, 2014-02.
- Media: NZZ am Sonntag, 01/26/2014; Ökonomenstimme, 01/28/2014; SRF 01/28/2014

Empirical Environmental Economics, University of Lucerne (2022, 2021)

Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Lucerne (2022, 2021)

Microceonomics II exercises, University of Lucerne (2020, 2018, 2017)

Microceonomics I exercises, University of Lucerne (2016)

Find my CV here:


Benjamin Krebs
MIT Building E19-411
400 Main Street, 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142-1017

bkrebs at mit dot edu