Beate Thies

Assistant Professor of Economics

University of Vienna
Department of Economics
Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1
1090 Vienna, Austria



I am an applied microeconomist with main research interests in environmental and labor economics. This fall, I have joined the Department of Economics at the University of Vienna as an Assistant Professor. I earned my PhD in Economics from the University of Mannheim in June 2023.

Find my CV here and feel free to contact me at beate[dot]thies[at]univie.ac.at.


Air Quality, Knowledge Worker Performance and Adaptation: Evidence from GitHub (with Felix Holub)

Abstract | Paper | Podcast The Visible Hand Highly skilled knowledge workers are important drivers of innovation and long-run growth. We study how air quality affects productivity and work patterns among these workers, using data from GitHub, the world's largest coding platform. We combine panel data on daily output, working hours, and task choices for a sample of 27,000 software developers across four continents during the period 2014-2019 with information on concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). An increase in air pollution reduces output, measured by the number of total actions performed on GitHub per day, and induces developers to adapt by working on easier tasks and by ending work activity earlier. To compensate, they work more on weekends following high-pollution days, which suggests adverse impacts on their work-life-balance. The decline in output arises even at concentrations in line with current regulatory standards in the EU and US. Exposure to unusually high PM2.5 levels relative to the city-by-season-by-day-of-week specific mean reduces daily output quantity by 4%, which translates into a loss in output value by approximately $8 per developer.

Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollution and the Development of Noncognitive Skills

[Abstract | Paper]
Noncognitive skills are important predictors for life outcomes like education, health and earnings. This paper provides causal evidence on the effect of in-utero exposure to air pollution on noncognitive ability in childhood. I use the meteorological phenomenon of thermal inversions to address the endogeneity in exposure to particulate matter and data from a representative household survey in Germany to measure noncognitive abilities. I find that an increase in particulate matter concentration by 1 unit during the prenatal period raises neuroticism at age 5-10 by 7% of a standard deviation. This implies that affected children are less emotionally stable, more fearful and less self-confident. Back of the envelope computations indicate that a one standard deviation increase in particulate matter reduces adult earnings by 0.24%-0.29% just through its impact on neuroticism.


Daylight, Circadian Rhythms, and Productivity (with Felix Holub and Ingo Isphording)

Spillover Effects of Local Environmental Shocks in Global Networks of Knowledge Workers (with Felix Holub)


Environmental Economics
Labor Economics