Quota vs. Quality? Long-Term Gains from an Unusual Gender Quota

joint with Ville Mankki (CESifo Working Paper No. 9811)

We evaluate equity-efficiency trade-offs from admissions quotas by examining effects on output once beneficiaries start producing in the relevant industry. In particular, we document the impact of abolishing a 40% quota for male primary school teachers in Finland on their pupils’ long-run outcomes. The quota had advantaged academically lower-scoring male university applicants, and its removal cut the share of men among new teachers by half. We combine this reform with the timing of union-mandated teacher retirements to isolate quasi-random variation in the local share of male quota teachers. Using comprehensive register data, we find that pupils exposed to a higher share of male quota teachers during primary school transition more smoothly to post-compulsory education, have higher educational attainment, and labor force attachment at age 25. Pupils of both genders benefit similarly from exposure to male quota teachers. Our findings are consistent with the quota improving the allocation of talent over the unconstrained selection process.

Press coverage: The Economist

The Long Run Effects of Funding for Public Education: Evidence from Land Grants

Public education is attributed a key role in the development of modern economies. In this paper, I trace out both the immediate and long run effects of investment in human capital through funding for local public schools. I leverage a natural experiment in Illinois that endowed survey townships at the beginning of settlement with a fixed plot of land (Section 16) to finance expenditures for local schools. By exploiting the granular spatial distribution of a particularly undesirable land feature, frequent flooding, I isolate exogenous variation in township schooling endowments while keeping overall township resource endowments fixed. I first document that conditional on overall flooding propensity in a township, relatively more flooding on Section 16 has a negative impact on both township schooling expenditures and school endowments by 1858. Linking residents from full count Census data from 1860 – 1940 to their townships of residence and across Census years, I find that “school-poor” townships quickly and persistently fall behind: They experience lower population growth and the occupation transformation away from a mostly agriculturally oriented local economy proceeds more slowly. I show that these effects are partly driven by school poor townships being unable to attract settlers moving to Illinois from within the United States, and by suffering brain drain from younger generations.

Thinking about the Future: Do Mothers Misperceive Financial Consequences of Reduced Labor Supply?

joint with Anne Brenøe, Ana Costa-Ramón and Michaela Slotwinski

Large and persistent earnings gaps open up between men and women after childbirth. While studies have documented that these gaps arise from drastically reduced labor supply of mothers, it is less well understood which factors women consider when making these decisions. In this study, we shed light on how expecting mothers perceive the long-term financial consequences of reduced labor force participation. In a large-scale field experiment in Switzerland, we first examine whether and how women are considering the impacts of reduced labor supply on lifetime earnings, pension savings, and financial well-being after potential adverse events. In a second step, we aim to correct potential misperceptions and inattention towards the financial consequences of reduced labor supply with an information intervention highlighting short and long-term trade-offs in such decisions.

Mothers’ Labor Supply and Immigration: Evidence from the Swiss Border Opening

joint with Andreas Beerli and Andrea Hofer