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

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

Revise & Resubmit at American Economic Review

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 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 and have higher educational attainment and labor force attachment at age 25. Pupils of both genders benefit similarly from exposure to male quota teachers. Evidence suggests that the quota improved the allocation of talent by mending imperfections in the unconstrained selection process.

Press coverage: The Economist: Quotas on it

Distinguished CESifo Affiliate Award , Labor Economics

(Not) Thinking about the Future: Inattention and Maternal Labor Supply

joint with Ana Costa-Ramón, Michaela Slotwinski, and Anne Brenøe (AEA RCT Registry 0010399)

The “child penalty” significantly reduces women’s lifetime earnings and pension savings, but it remains unclear whether these gaps are the deliberate result of forward-looking decisions. This paper provides novel evidence on the role of cognitive constraints in mothers’ labor supply decisions. In a large-scale field experiment that combines rich survey and administrative data, we provide mothers with objective, individualized information about the long-run costs of reduced labor supply. The treatment increases demand for financial information and future labor supply plans, in particular among women who underestimated the long-term costs. Leveraging linked employer administrative data one year post-intervention, we observe that these mothers increase their actual labor supply by 6 percent over the mean.

Mothers’ Labor Force Participation and the Availability of Part-Time Jobs

joint with Andrea Hofer and Andreas Beerli (Draft coming soon)

How does the structure of jobs in the labor market shape mothers’ labor supply? In this paper, we show that mothers’ labor force participation declines following a labor market shock that reduces the availability of part-time jobs, while fathers and women without children remain unaffected. We leverage an immigration reform that sharply increased the supply of high-skilled, full-time workers in a pre-defined set of border localities in Switzerland. Using social security registers and business census data in a difference-in-differences design, we show that the reform leads to a change in the structure of the labor market with fewer part-time jobs, resulting in a drop in mothers’ labor force participation by 4 percentage points. This pattern translates into an increase in the “child penalty” that persists up to ten years after the birth of the first child. We provide evidence that mothers’ drop-out is primarily driven by firms reducing their demand for part-time workers, thus highlighting a competition channel that manifests itself through the number of hours that workers are willing to supply. We rule out alternative mechanisms such as household income effects, fertility, and gender norms.

The Long Run Effects of Funding for Public Education

joint with Cory Smith

Public education is attributed a key role in the development of modern economies. In this paper, we trace out both the immediate and long run effects of investment in human capital through funding for local public schools. We 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, we isolate exogenous variation in township schooling endowments while keeping overall township resource endowments fixed. We 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, we 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. We 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.

Work in progress:

Divorce, Investment in the Labor Market and Household Income Pooling (RCT)

joint with Ana Costa-Ramón, Michaela Slotwinski, and Johannes Stupperich (Baseline completed, Follow Up in the field. AEA RCT Registry 0012494)

We document several stylized facts about divorce perceptions and household specialization: First, women are over-optimistic about their own divorce likelihood and over-estimate claims to their partner’s income post-divorce, suggesting that current specialization patterns are not optimal. Second, lower own divorce expectations correlate with lower career aspirations. Third, women who have been exposed to divorce and its financial implications in their close environment are better informed and specialize less in home production. Based on these insights, we develop a testimonial intervention that emulates learning from a divorce experience and measure its impact on household bargaining and career investment.

The Causal Impact of an Anti-Bullying Intervention on Children’s Development (AEA RCT Registry 0010879)

joint with Ana Costa-Ramón and Ana Rodríguez-González