Andreas Beerli

ETH Zürich
KOF Swiss Economic Institute
Leonhardstrasse 21
LEE G 116
CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland

Andreas Beerli Portrait

Welcome to my website

I am an economist studying labor markets, immigration and crime. I work as a postdoctoral researcher at the KOF Economic Institute and at the Immigration Policy Lab, both at ETH Zurich. I have a PhD from the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich.

I am co-founder of Policy Analytics whose mission is to support organizations using rigorous evidence to design social programs, policies, services, or interventions that enable their clients to make better decisions for themselves and society.

Most of my work uses field experiments, surveys, natural experiments and large data sets. To evaluate, learn and improve the impact of policies and social programs, I am collaborating with and suppport decision makers in foundations, and in the public and private sector.

Recent work studies how removing immigration restrictions for EU citizens affected native workers in Switzerland and how the digital revolution shapes the skills immigrants bring to destination countries.

You can find my CV here.

Working Papers

  • The abolition of immigration restrictions and the performance of firms and workers: Evidence from Switzerland
  • joint with Jan Ruffner, Michael Siegenthaler and Giovanni Peri: KOF Working Paper No. 486 (ungated)
  • Video summary: here
  • Summary in german: Twitter, NZZ, June 2020
  • This study builds on the insights of the paper "The Labor Market Effects of Opening the Border", written with Giovanni Peri (download working paper) and those of Michael and Jan in their paper.
  • Conditionally accepted at the American Economic Review
  • Abstract We study a reform that granted European cross-border workers free access to the Swiss labor market. Our Differences-in-Differences estimations leverage the fact that regions close to the border were affected more intensely and earlier. In these regions, the employment share of foreign workers grew 10 percentage points in the decade following the reform. We find that the greater availability of cross-border workers increased wages and possibly employment of highly educated native workers although many of the new cross-border workers were also highly educated. These results are the consequence of a simultaneous increase in labor demand: free cross-border mobility increased the size, productivity, and innovation performance of some incumbent firms, attracted new firms, and created opportunities for natives to pursue managerial jobs. Most of these effects are larger in skill-intensive sectors and in firms that experienced skill shortages before the reform. Our results highlight that understanding the labor market effects of immigration requires analyzing the impact on workers and firms jointly.
  • featured in: VoxEU, Corriere del Ticino (italian), Le Temps July 2015, May 2016 (french), Swiss Radio (german)
  • related: Trump's quota adjustment for H-1B Visa Program USA: Tagesanzeiger (german)

  • The supply of foreign talent: How skill-biased technology drives the location choice and skills of new immigrants
  • joint with Ronald Indergand and Johannes Kunz: Working Paper
  • Abstract An important goal of immigration policy is to facilitate the entry of foreign-born workers whose skills are in short supply in national labour markets. In recent decades, information and com- munication technology [ICT] has fuelled the demand for highly skilled workers at the expense of lower-skill groups. Little is known about how immigrants responded to changing economic oppor- tunities brought about by ICT. Exploiting the fact that different regions in Switzerland have been differentially exposed to ICT changes due to their pre-ICT industrial composition, we present ev- idence suggesting that more exposed regions experienced stronger ICT adoption, accompanied by considerably stronger growth in relative employment and wage-premia for college-educated workers. Following this change in the landscape of relative economic opportunities, we find robust evidence that these regions experienced a much stronger influx of highly-skilled immigrants in absolute terms as well as relative to lower-skilled groups. In our most preferred specification, a difference in one standard deviation in initial ICT exposure translated roughly into a 14 percent larger inflow of highly-skilled compared to middle-skilled immigrants. Our results suggest that immigrants’ lo- cation decisions respond strongly to these long-run, technology-driven changes in their economic opportunities. Finally, we analyse whether the response of immigrants to skill demand changed when Switzerland opened the labour market for European workers.
  • Earlier version: June 2016, April 2015
  • featured in: Media Briefing Royal Economic Society 2015, UBS Center Summary, Swiss Radio (german), Die Volkswirtschaft (May 2015: german/french, Nov 2015: german/french), Tagesanzeiger (german), BAZ Dec 2015
  • related: Presentations SGV: The future of work (slides in german, 2016)

Ongoing projects

  • The right to be heard: a randomized controlled trial on economizing procedural justice
  • joint with Lorenz Biberstein, Martin Killias, Michel Maréchal and Nora Markwalder
  • Abstract The right to be heard – Audi Alteram Partem – is a fundamental principle underlying most legal systems and constitutes a basic human right. Legal scholars argue that the right to be heard is essential for the rule of law because it helps achieving truth and legitimizes judicial sentencing. On the other hand, hearings are labor and time intensive, leading to an overloaded criminal justice system, particularly for mass crimes. We evaluate the importance of hearings in the context of a large-scale reform of the Swiss Criminal Procedure Code, which delegated sentencing power from courts to the prosecutors through the means of penal orders. As a consequence of the reform, prosecutors sentence offenders by sending them a penal order that is solely based on police reports in roughly 90% of all criminal proceedings, de facto removing the defendants‘ right of being heard. We conducted a field experiment in collaboration with a public prosecution office in Switzerland and randomly invited defendants to participate in a prosecutorial hearing, allowing us to investigate the causal effect of hearings on prosecutorial sentencing, perceptions of procedural fairness, and recidivism.
  • Political repercussions of open borders
  • joint with Dalston Ward and Dominik Hangarnter
  • Abstract Prominent explanations of anti-immigrant attitudes give centrality to the socio-cultural differences between immigrants and host communities and to the economic threats posed by newcomers. In this paper, we provide evidence of a backlash to immigration in a context where both socio-cultural and economic threats were minimal. We study Switzerland, which opened its borders and labor market to the rest of Europe in the 2000s. Using a difference- in-differences approach, we first show that the number immigrants living and working in Swiss border municipalities increased dramatically after the borders opened, with the vast majority of these immigrants coming from neighbouring France, Germany and Italy. In the same border municipalities, we find that support for the anti-immigrant parties increased by approximately five percentage points after borders were opened. These findings contribute to our theoretical understanding of anti-immigrant sentiment and have important implications for the political consequences of the European Union’s principle of free movement.


  • "Demand forces of technical change: Evidence from the chinese manufacturing industry"
    joint with Franziska Weiss, Fabrizio Zilibotti and Josef Zweimüller
  • forthcoming in the China Economic Review
  • ungated Working paper
  • Abstract This paper investigates the effect of domestic market size on innovation activities across different durable good industries in the Chinese manufacturing sector. We ad- dress the endogeneity of market size by an IV strategy, based on a measure of potential market size, which is driven only by changes in the Chinese income distribution. This measure is exogenous to changes in prices and qualities of durable goods and is a valid instrument for expected future market size. Our results indicate that an increase in market size by one percent leads to an increase in firm-specific total factor productivity by 0.46 percent and an increase in labor productivity by 0.50 percent. These findings are robust to controlling for export behavior of firms and supply side drivers of R&D.

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Field Partners

I’m passionate about finding synergies and collaborating with NGOs, public and private sector organizations and research institutions to advance our understanding of human behavior allowing us to design, test, improve and scale social programs, policies and interventions that ultimately allow people and communities to thrive. Here are some organizations I have been working with:

Engagement Migros, Zürich

Engagement Migros supports and guides pioneering projects committed to social impact. We support them in this endeavour by developing a tailor-made impact guidance system that facilitates the use of evidence and learning about what works and what does not in each pioneer project.

Logo-Kanton St. Gallen
Prosecutorial Office, Canton of St. Gallen

We collaborated with the prosecutorial office in St. Gallen to learn about the importance of economizing hearings in the penal process.

Logo-Kanton Zuerich
Office for Corrections and Rehabilitation, Canton of Zürich

The Office for Corrections and Rehabilitation is responsible for the administration of the various forms of custodial sentences and non-custodial measures. We support them in the design, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based reforms.

Uber, Switzerland

Uber is a ride hailing service operative in different cities in Switzerland. We collaborate to learn about the effects of different policies implemented in Switzerland.


Department of Consultation-Liaison-Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine

The Outpatient Clinic for Victims of Torture and War offers psychiatric-psychotherapeutic clarification and treatment to severely traumatised people with a refugee background. We collaborate to learn about the effects of trauma treatments on mental health and long-term integration of refugees.

Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School, Cambridge MA

The Access to Justice Lab creates and shares the rigorous evidence needed to expand the access to civil justice in U.S. and to improve fairness, dignity and respect in the criminal justice system. We collaborate to study the effects of different criminal justice policies.

Immigration Policy Lab, Zürich

The Immigration Policy Lab evaluates and design policies surrounding the integration of immigrants and refugees worldwide. We joint forces to study the effects of immigrants on attitudes of natives towards them and to study different policies and intervention that promote long-term integration of immigrants.

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Blogs / popular writing

  • How do ETH Alumni fare in the job market?, KOF Studies, No. 152, July 2020 (with Mahsa Khoshnama, Daniel Kopp, Michael Siegenthaler)
  • Can education programs prevent violent extremism?, Blog Center for Global Development (CGD), July 2019 (with Stephan Kyburz and Adina Rom)
  • Die Ursachen der Fachkräftemigration in die Schweiz, Die Volkswirtschaft, November 2015 (with Ronald Indergand)
  • The labour market effect of opening the border to immigrant workers, Vox EU column, August 2015 (with Giovanni Peri)
  • Die Arbeitsmarktpolarisierung nimmt zu, Die Volkswirtschaft, May 2015 (with Ronald Indergand)
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