Does Information about Inequality and Discrimination in Early Child Care Affect Policy Preferences?

Henning Hermes Philipp Lergetporer Fabian Mierisch Guido Schwerdt Simon Wiederhold

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 2, 2024


We investigate public preferences for equity-enhancing policies in access to early child care, using a survey experiment with a representative sample of the German population (n ≈ 4, 800). We observe strong misperceptions about migrant-native inequalities in early child care that vary by respondents’ age and right-wing voting preferences. Randomly providing information about the actual extent of inequalities has a nuanced impact on the support for equity-enhancing policy reforms: it increases support for respondents who initially underestimated these inequalities, and tends to decrease support for those who initially overestimated them. This asymmetric effect leads to a more consensual policy view, substantially decreasing the polarization in policy support between under- and overestimators. Our results suggest that correcting misperceptions can align public policy preferences, potentially leading to less polarized debates about how to address inequalities and discrimination.

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Why Is the Roy-Borjas Model Unable to Predict International Migrant Selection on Education? Evidence from Urban and Rural Mexico

Stefan Leopold Jens Ruhose Simon Wiederhold

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 16, 2023


The Roy-Borjas model predicts that international migrants are less educated than nonmigrants because the returns to education are generally higher in developing (migrant-sending) than in developed (migrant-receiving) countries. However, empirical evidence often shows the opposite. Using the case of Mexico-U.S. migration, we show that this inconsistency between predictions and empirical evidence can be resolved when the human capital of migrants is assessed using a two-dimensional measure of occupational skills rather than by educational attainment. Thus, focusing on a single skill dimension when investigating migrant selection can lead to misleading conclusions about the underlying economic incentives and behavioral models of migration.

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Do Role Models Matter in Large Classes? New Evidence on Gender Match Effects in Higher Education

Stephan Maurer Guido Schwerdt Simon Wiederhold

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 14, 2023


It is well established that female students perform better when taught by female professors. However, little is known about the mechanisms explaining these gender match effects. Using administrative records from a German public university, which cover all programs and courses between 2006 and 2018, we show that gender match effects are sizable in smaller classes, but are absent in larger classes. These results suggest that direct and frequent interactions between students and professors are crucial for gender match effects to emerge. In contrast, the mere fact that one’s professor is female is not sufficient to increase performance of female students.

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Where Do STEM Graduates Stem from? The Intergenerational Transmission of Comparative Skill Advantages

Eric A. Hanushek Babs Jacobs Guido Schwerdt Rolf van der Velden Stan Vermeulen Simon Wiederhold

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 13, 2023


The standard economic model of occupational choice following a basic Roy model emphasizes individual selection and comparative advantage, but the sources of comparative advantage are not well understood. We employ a unique combination of Dutch survey and registry data that links math and language skills across generations and permits analysis of the intergenerational transmission of comparative skill advantages. Exploiting within-family between-subject variation in skills, we show that comparative advantages in math of parents are significantly linked to those of their children. A causal interpretation follows from a novel IV estimation that isolates variation in parent skill advantages due to their teacher and classroom peer quality. Finally, we show the strong influence of family skill transmission on children’s choices of STEM fields.

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Discrimination on the Child Care Market: A Nationwide Field Experiment?

Henning Hermes Philipp Lergetporer Fabian Mierisch Frauke Peter Simon Wiederhold

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 12, 2023


We provide the first causal evidence of discrimination against migrants seeking child care. We send emails from fictitious parents to > 18,000 early child care centers across Germany, asking if there is a slot available and how to apply. Randomly varying names to signal migration background, we find that migrants receive 4.4 percentage points fewer responses. Responses to migrants also contain substantially fewer slot offers, are shorter, and less encouraging. Exploring channels, discrimination against migrants does not differ by the perceived educational background of the email sender. However, it does differ by regional characteristics, being stronger in areas with lower shares of migrants in child care, higher right-wing vote shares, and lower financial resources. Discrimination on the child care market likely perpetuates existing inequalities of opportunities for disadvantaged children.

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The Value of Early-Career Skills

Christina Langer Simon Wiederhold

in: CESifo Working Paper, No. 10288, 2023


We develop novel measures of early-career skills that are more detailed, comprehensive, and labor-market-relevant than existing skill proxies. We exploit that skill requirements of apprenticeships in Germany are codified in state-approved, nationally standardized apprenticeship plans. These plans provide more than 13,000 different skills and the exact duration of learning each skill. Following workers over their careers in administrative data, we find that cognitive, social, and digital skills acquired during apprenticeship are highly – yet differently – rewarded. We also document rising returns to digital and social skills since the 1990s, with a more moderate increase in returns to cognitive skills.

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Early Child Care and Labor Supply of Lower-SES Mothers: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Henning Hermes Marina Krauss Philipp Lergetporer Frauke Peter Simon Wiederhold

in: CESifo Working Paper, No. 10178, 2022


We present experimental evidence that enabling access to universal early child care for families with lower socioeconomic status (SES) increases maternal labor supply. Our intervention provides families with customized help for child care applications, resulting in a large increase in enrollment among lower-SES families. The treatment increases lower-SES mothers' full-time employment rates by 9 percentage points (+160%), household income by 10%, and mothers' earnings by 22%. The effect on full-time employment is largely driven by increased care hours provided by child care centers and fathers. Overall, the treatment substantially improves intra-household gender equality in terms of child care duties and earnings.

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Individualism, Human Capital Formation, and Labor Market Success

Katharina Hartinger Sven Resnjanskij Jens Ruhose Simon Wiederhold

in: CESifo Working Paper, No. 9391, 2021


There is an ongoing debate about the economic effects of individualism. We establish that individualism leads to better educational and labor market outcomes. Using data from the largest international adult skill assessment, we identify the effects of individualism by exploiting variation between migrants at the origin country, origin language, and person level. Migrants from more individualistic cultures have higher cognitive skills and larger skill gains over time. They also invest more in their skills over the life-cycle, as they acquire more years of schooling and are more likely to participate in adult education activities. In fact, individualism is more important in explaining adult skill formation than any other cultural trait that has been emphasized in previous literature. In the labor market, more individualistic migrants earn higher wages and are less often unemployed. We show that our results cannot be explained by selective migration or omitted origin-country variables.

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Behavioral Barriers and the Socioeconomic Gap in Child Care Enrollment

Henning Hermes Philipp Lergetporer Frauke Peter Simon Wiederhold

in: CESifo Working Paper, No. 9282, 2021


Children with lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to benefit more from early child care, but are substantially less likely to be enrolled. We study whether reducing behavioral barriers in the application process increases enrollment in child care for lower-SES children. In our RCT in Germany with highly subsidized child care (n > 600), treated families receive application information and personal assistance for applications. For lower-SES families, the treatment increases child care application rates by 21 pp and enrollment rates by 16 pp. Higher-SES families are not affected by the treatment. Thus, alleviating behavioral barriers closes half of the SES gap in early child care enrollment.

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The Effects of Graduating from High School in a Recession: College Investments, Skill Formation, and Labor-Market Outcomes

Franziska Hampf Marc Piopiunik Simon Wiederhold

in: CESifo Working Paper, No. 8252, 2020


We investigate the short- and long-term effects of economic conditions at high-school graduation as a source of exogenous variation in the labor-market opportunities of potential college entrants. Exploiting business cycle fluctuations across birth cohorts for 28 developed countries, we find that bad economic conditions at high-school graduation increase college enrollment and graduation. They also affect outcomes in later life, increasing cognitive skills and improving labor-market success. Outcomes are affected only by the economic conditions at high-school graduation, but not by those during earlier or later years. Recessions at high-school graduation narrow the gender gaps in numeracy skills and labor-market success.

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