A week full of discussions and interactions with Nobel Laureates and fellow young researchers - Katharina Hartinger, PhD student at the Chair of Macroeconomics, was invited to participate in the Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences this summer. Held right by beautiful Lake Constance, the meeting offered her the chance to participate in many social activities with the Laureates and hear their feedback on her research. As a highlight of the week, Ms. Hartinger participated in a panel discussion on “Social Change and Social Media” with Laureates Joseph E. Stiglitz and Richard H. Thaler.
A recording of the panel discussion is available here.
The press release offers a more detailed report on the meeting (in German).
Katharina Hartinger, PhD student at the Chair of Macroeconomics, has won the first Teaching Award of the European Economic Association for young talents. She prevailed against strong European-wide competition and can now call herself European Champion in Teaching. The whole chair congratulates Ms. Hartinger on this huge success!
For more information about the award and some quotes from Ms. Hartinger and Prof. Wiederhold, please see the press release (in German).
When the demand for workers significantly exceeds supply, companies in the USA place less emphasis on formal degrees for applicants. Instead, demonstrated skills and competencies become more important. This is the conclusion reached by Christina Langer and her co-authors in their study, "The Emerging Degree Reset," published in the prestigious Harvard Business Review online. The study was also prominently featured in the largest U.S. media outlets (as well as on German sites) including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNBC, Business Insider or Yahoo! Money.
In collaboration with Emsi Burning Glass, a Boston-based labor-market analytics firm, Joseph B. Fuller (Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School) and Christina Langer analyzed an innovative dataset of more than 51 million job vacancies that were posted online in the U.S between 2017 and 2020.
The researchers found that employers were already reducing the explicit requirement for a college degree before the pandemic: between 2017 and 2019, they reduced the requirement for a college degree in 46% of middle-skill occupations and in 31% of high-skill occupations. This was most pronounced in IT jobs and management positions, which were already hard to fill during this period.
The researchers paid particular attention to the IT sector, which is characterized by a chronic supply –demand imbalance and often offers similar positions across companies. The authors observed significant differences in degree requirements across companies, even for the same occupations. Take a software engineer in quality assurance as an example: While Accenture or IBM only demand a university degree in 26 or 29 percent of their job advertisements, Intel, Apple or HP demanded at least a bachelor's degree in more than 90 percent of their postings, Oracle without exception.
Why do so many employers still require a formal degree when technical or "hard" skills can be easily verified through testing? Some companies believe that college graduates have better social or "soft" skills - such as the ability to work in groups, communicate effectively, or prioritize tasks. These skills are far more difficult to assess, and the analysis strongly suggests that many employers use the college degree as a proxy for these skills. At the same time, the researchers found that employers who took the university degree requirements out of the job ad in return often added more detailed requirements for these soft skills.
For more information on the study, the research paper and a press release are available online.
Benefits from attending child care are particularly large for children from disadvantaged families, but these children are actually less likely to attend. Can providing families with information and application support for child care reduce this inequality in child care attendance? Together with his co-authors Henning Hermes (NHH Bergen), Philipp Lergetporer (TU Munich) and Frauke Peter (DZHW Hannover), Simon Wiederhold addresses this question in a new research paper.
In total, more than 600 families with children under the age of three years participated in the study. A randomly selected portion of these families received help to reduce potential barriers to applying for child care; that is, information (e.g., about the application process) and personalized application support. Random assignment of the treatment allows to convincingly estimate the causal effect of the treatment on families’ child care attendance.
Among more disadvantaged families, the treatment significantly increases both the likelihood of applying for child care and actual child care enrollment. For less disadvantaged families, the treatment has no effect. Thus, the treatment strongly reduces socioeconomic inequality in child care attendance. Treatment effects are particularly strong for more disadvantaged families with initially little knowledge about early child care and with a migrant background, respectively.
The study's findings suggest that more disadvantaged families are often unable to realize the child care arrangement they desire due to a lack of information or the high complexity of the child care application process. Reducing barriers by simplifying the child care application process (e.g., by reducing bureaucracy and providing easy-to-understand information) can be a simple but effective strategy for providing all families with equal access to early child care.
For more information on the study:
ifo Schnelldienst (in German)
Ökonomenstimme (in German)
Press release (in German)
Newspaper article (FAZ) (in German)
In their study, Christina Langer and Jean-Victor Alipour analyze how often employers in Germany advertise open positions with a remote work option. They use data from over 35 million job ads since 2014. While a working from home (WfH)-option was rare in job ads before the crisis, the Corona shock led to a WfH-boom: between 2019 and 2021 the share of postings with a WfH-option almost tripled to close to 12%. The trend continues to the current margin, suggesting that employers increasingly adjust their postings to this new work mode. At the same time, regional, occupational, and sectoral gaps in WfH-access have narrowed during the pandemic.
The strongest growth in WfH-jobs has been in occupations with previously high untapped WfH-potential. This suggests that, since the pandemic, jobs that are suitable for WfH are also increasingly advertised accordingly. In other words: employers increasingly exploit their WfH-potentials.
Rural regions are also catching up significantly in terms of WfH: the regional gap between urban and rural areas fell by around 30 percent between 2019 and 2020. In jobs advertised for WfH, competencies such as adapting to change, teamwork and digital skills are also gaining in importance.
The data was collected by the Emsi Burning Glass, a U.S.-based labor market analytics firm specialized on online job ads. They scrape more than 200 online job boards and company websites in Germany for job postings and process them automatically.
The results of the study also attracted great interest in the media (including Handelsblatt, FAZ, Süddeutsche, N-TV, and Wirtschaftswoche). For more information, an ifo Schnelldienst and a press release are available online.
An economic experiment at a garden fair? It might sound bizarre – after all, the core topic of a garden fair is ecology much rather than the economy – but the interactive decision game hosted by the INES lab was highly popular among visitors of the KU pavilion at the Bavarian garden fair in Ingolstadt on May 22. 100 volunteers participated in the experiment, supporting the pilot study for the project “Fruits of the System – a Casino-Based Analysis of Beliefs and Decision-Making” by Katharina Hartinger and Dr. Alexander Patt (IAB Nuremberg). Given the high participation rate, the INES team – consisting of Fabian Mierisch, Corinna Schroeder, and Katharina Hartinger – was very busy disinfecting tablets, instructing participants, and handing out flower seeds to the winners. It was a colorful day with many interesting conversations about behavioral economics in general and our research at WFI in particular. The new insights into participants’ reactions to the very unusual decision environment is extremely valuable for the final design phase of the study, which will continue in the second half of 2021.
Can mentoring improve labor-market prospects for adolescents from highly disadvantaged families? A new research paper by Simon Wiederhold and his co-authors Sven Resnjanskij, Ludger Wößmann (both ifo Institute) and Jens Ruhose (Kiel University) addresses this question. They conduct a Germany-wide field experiment to provide the first causal evidence on the large and positive effects of mentoring on labor-market prospects for adolescents from highly disadvantaged backgrounds.
One cannot choose one’s family – yet, family background is a crucial determinant of education and labor-market prospects, particularly in Germany. This has been shown by a wide body of economic research on the persistence of social inequality across generations. While existing evidence suggests that programs helping disadvantaged children already early in life stand a good chance to succeed, interventions in schools or labor markets have proven much less successful in helping disadvantaged youths. However, little is known about the potential effects of programs that provide personal support from other adults. This is the approach followed by mentoring programs, in which young mentees are matched with a mentor who offer them personal support that their families are not able to provide.
To evaluate the impact of the mentoring program “Rock Your Life!”, Simon Wiederhold and his co-authors randomly assigned applicants to program slots in locations with more applicants than available mentors. Additionally, with around 100 trips to schools all over Germany, the researchers were able to survey almost all study participants multiple times over a long time span. The project gratefully received funding from the Wübben Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation, Porticus and the Integration Commissioner of the German government.
The results of the study are remarkable: One year after the start of the program, labor-market prospects for the participating adolescents from highly disadvantaged backgrounds have improved significantly – as measured by improvements in cognitive (math grade), non-cognitive (patience and social skills), and motivational (labor-market orientation) factors. The program did not have a positive effect on less disadvantaged youth, from whom lack of adult support does not seem to be a major handicap. Due to the large program effects on school performance and the resulting lifetime labor-market gains highly disadvantaged adolescents can expect, the mentoring program is highly cost-effective.
It comes as no surprise that these study results have widely been cited in the media (e.g., Deutschlandfunk, Donaukurier, FAZ, Süddeutsche, WELT as well as ProSiebenSat 1 and RTL). Internationally, Nobel Prize laureate James J. Heckman discusses the study in a podcast . In addition to the working paper (English), a recording of the ifo press conference, a short overview of the results, and press releases from KU and the ifo Institute (all German) are available.
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Explaining a research project to the general public in 90 seconds is a real challenge – Katharina Hartinger and Alexander Patt (authors) have accepted this challenge in collaboration with Celine Simson (video). In their project „Fruits of the SYSTEM - a Casino-Based Analysis of Beliefs and Decision-Making”, the authors investigate human economic decision-making in high-uncertainty environments. Check out the video for more details!
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The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports about Louisa Peine's master thesis at the Chair of Macroeconomics as part of her series "Unikate" on the Young People's Page! In her master's thesis in the field of macroeconomics (supervised by Katharina Hartinger and Prof. Simon Wiederhold), Ms. Peine investigates the effects of a temporary Netflix failure on fertility using data at the state level. The article (20.07. bayernweit in the print edition) is now also available online.
For the second year in a row, WFI’s teaching award goes to the Chair of Macroeconomics! Katharina Hartinger received the prize for outstanding teaching based on her two most recent evaluations. The students’ council presents this award to the best teaching staff once per year. In courses like “Economics of Innovation”, “Economics of Education” or “Introductory Economics”, Ms Hartinger teaches valuable methods and brand-new research insights – often combined with stories about her own work as a researcher.
Last year, Prof. Wiederhold was the recipient of the professorial teaching award. While current circumstances require a whole lot of creativity, the Chair of Macroeconomics continues to treat high-quality, relevant, and exciting teaching as a top priority.
Prof. Dr. Simon Wiederhold will be on sabbatical in the summer semester 2020. Therefore, please contact the other members of the chair with any concerns regarding teaching at the chair.
In recent years, third-party-funded research projects have steadily gained in importance at the KU. In these projects, (interdisciplinary) research groups investigate socially relevant issues in cooperation with an external sponsor – with a focus on knowledge transfer into society. Simon Wiederhold (together with Franziska Hampf, Marc Piopiunik and Ludger Woessmann from the ifo institute) have now been awarded the ifo Prize for Exceptional Achievement in Third-party Funded Research at ifo’s annual meeting. In the project "Acquisition and Utilisation of Adult Skills – A Network for Analysing, Developing and Disseminating PIAAC", the research team showed that cognitive skills are substantially rewarded on the labor market. However, there are significant differences between countries in these so-called returns to skills, as a widely-cited research article in the renowned European Economic Review illustrates. These results are more relevant than ever in the current political discussion due to the COVID-19-related global lockdown of education institutions and its dramatic consequences on skill development.
The call was initiated by Prof. Simon Wiederhold and Prof. Alexander M. Danzer (KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt) together with four other professors from DIW Berlin, FU Berlin, ifo Institute Munich and JMU Würzburg. The call was co-signed by more than 90 renowned economists who work on educational issues in Germany.
The call describes the urgent need for resuming teaching and care of all children and adolescents in a structured way. The call proposes measures in the short, medium and long term to prevent the loss of skills and counteract a rise in educational inequality. In addition, the call points out the serious long-term economic consequences of school closures.
Press release (with quotations from Prof. Wiederhold and Prof. Danzer)
Full text call and list of supporters
Spiegel online already covered the call, the article can be found here.
The paper "Returns to Skills around the World: Evidence from PIAAC" is one of only two studies to be included in the "Editor's Choice" of the best studies to mark the 50th anniversary of the renowned European Economic Review. The paper also received the Best Paper Award for the best publication in the European Economic Review in 2015. It is also the most cited article published since 2013 in the journal. In this paper, Simon Wiederhold and his co-authors Eric Hanushek (Stanford University), Guido Schwerdt (University of Konstanz), and Ludger Woessmann (ifo Institute) show that individuals benefit from improved educational achievement on the labor market.
This year’s faculty award for excellent teaching goes to Prof. Wiederhold! Based on evaluation results from the previous two semesters, the students’ council presents this award to the top performing WFI professor once a year. Prof. Wiederhold’s teaching in a broad spectrum of courses – such as “Introductory Economics”, “Economics of Innovation”, and “Behavioral Finance” – has thus been rewarded. Encouraging students to become interested in the diverse and highly relevant topics of economics as well as equipping them with a valuable methodological toolkit has always been a major aim of the chair of macroeconomics. Seeing that our students acknowledge this work is an honor and a source of further motivation for Prof. Wiederhold and his team.
What is the role of teachers’ cognitive skills in explaining tragically low student performance in Sub- Saharan Africa? Simon Wiederhold, jointly with Jan Bietenbeck and Marc Piopiunik, address this question in their recent paper "Africa’s Skill Tragedy: Does Teachers’ Lack of Knowledge Lead to Low Student Performance?".
Co-author Marc Piopiunik has now been awarded the ifo institute’s prestigious award for excellent research for his collaboration in this study. Once per year, the ifo research prize honors ifo researchers who were involved in outstanding research projects. This award underlines once more the quality of the study, which has already been published in the highly renowned Journal of Human Resources.
Are students slowly getting „chalkbored“? How can we improve meaningful digitization in German classrooms? Soon a group of students will try to solve these big questions in cooperation with the chair of macroeconomics. KU is the first university to support „YES! – Young Economic Summit“, a nationwide student competition in economics. YES! encourages students to tackle real-world socioeconomic problems and develop their own solutions. Prof. Wiederhold and Katharina Hartinger will support a group of students and share research-based insights into the topic of digitization. We are extremely curious to see how students want to improve digitization in schools and what flaws of the current process they will expose!
For more information on WFI’s role in the competition (including a statement from president Gien), click here (in German).
Prof. Simon Wiederhold won the academic DJ competition of the WFI Ingolstadt together with Prof. Dominika Langenmayr. By several musical highlights and great effort the team got ahead of the vigorous competition. We congratulate all colleagues and give thanks to the UNICEF students group for the organisation of this unforgettable and prosperous evening. The article can be found here (in German).
Since May 2017, Prof. Simon Wiederhold holds the Chair for Economics, especially Macroeconomics at Ingolstadt School of Management. In summer term 2016 and winter term 2016/2017, Prof. Wiederhold was already interim professor at the chair for Macroeconomics. For more information about Mr. Wiederhold, click here.
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