Research Fields



Applied Labor Economics

Policy Evaluation

New Technologies



Publications, refereed

Beyond The Average: Ethnic Capital Heterogeneity and Intergenerational Transmission of Education (with Tanika Chakraborty and Klaus F. Zimmermann), Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 163(July 2019), 551–569, 2019, DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.04.004


Estimating the effect of ethnic capital on human capital investment decisions is complicated by the endogeneity of immigrants’ location choice, unobserved local correlates and the reflection problem. We exploit the institutional setting of a rare immigrant settlement policy in Germany, that generates quasi-random assignment across regions, and identify the causal impact of heterogeneous ethnic capital on educational outcomes of children. Correcting for endogenous location choice and correlated unobservables, we find that children of low-educated parents benefit significantly from the presence of high-educated parental peers of the same ethnicity. High educated parental peers from other ethnicities do not influence children’s learning achievements. Our estimates are unlikely to be confounded by the reflection problem since we study the effects of parental peers’ human capital which is pre-determined with respect to children’s outcomes. Our findings further suggest an increase in parental aspirations as a possible mechanism driving the heterogeneous ethnic capital effects, implying that profiling peers or ethnic role models could be important for migrant integration policies.


Broadband Upgrade and Firm Performance in Rural Areas: Quasi-experimental Evidence (with Giulia Canzian and Samuele Poy), Regional Science and Urban Economics 77, 87–103, 2019, DOI: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2019.03.002


This paper analyzes the impact of advanced (up to 20Mbps download, up to 1Mbps upload) broadband accessibility on firm performance by exploiting a unique local policy of a staggered broadband infrastructure upgrade across rural municipalities. In a difference-in-differences framework based on longitudinal balance sheet data for limited companies, we show that ADSL2+ availability is associated with increases in firms’ revenue and total factor productivity (by on average 14.8 and 9.1 percent cumulatively over two years), but not with significant changes in personnel cost or employment. Additional analysis of aggregate administrative data shows no significant impact on the total number of active firms or local employment. Pre-trend evaluations support a causal interpretation.


The Drowning-Refugee Effect: Media Salience and Xenophobic Attitudes (with Silvia De Poli and Niklas Jakobsson), 

Applied Economics Letters 24(16), 1167–1172, 2017, DOI: 10.1080/13504851.2016.1262513


We study whether salient media coverage of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean affects individual xenophobic attitudes. We combine a randomized survey experiment – a variant of the classic “trolley dilemma” – that implicitly elicits individual attitudes toward foreigners, with variation in interview timing, and find that such issue salience significantly decreases xenophobic attitudes by 2.2 percentage points. Our results thus support the idea that exposure to news describing immigrants as victims (instead of a threat) can significantly affect public opinion and mitigate bias against immigrants.


The Effects of 9/11 on Attitudes Toward Immigration and the Moderating Role of Education,

Kyklos 69(4), 604–632, 2016, DOI: 10.1111/kykl.12122


The 9/11 terror attacks are likely to have induced an increase in anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner sentiments, not only among US residents but also beyond US borders. Using unique longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and exploiting exogenous variation in interview timing throughout 2001, I find that the 9/11 events caused an immediate shift of around 40 percent of one within standard deviation to more negative attitudes toward immigration and resulted in a considerable decrease in concerns over xenophobic hostility among the German population. The quasi-experiment 9/11 provides evidence on the relevance of non-economic factors in attitude formation as well as the role of education in moderating the negative terrorism shock. Additional descriptive analysis suggests that the effects have been persistent also in the years after the attacks.


Ethnic Enclaves and Immigrant Economic Integration, IZA World of Labor: 287, 2016, DOI: 10.15185/izawol.287


Immigrants are typically not evenly distributed within host countries; instead they tend to cluster in particular neighborhoods. But does clustering in ethnic enclaves help explain the persistent differences in employment rates and earnings between immigrants and the native population? Empirical studies consistently find that residing in an enclave can increase earnings. While it is still ambiguous whether mainly low-skilled immigrants benefit, or whether employment probabilities are affected, it is clear that effects are driven by enclave “quality” (in terms of income, education, and employment rates) rather than enclave size.


The 9/11 Conservative Shift, Economics Letters 135, , 80–84, 2015, DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2015.07.031


This study analyzes the causal impact of the 9/11 terror attacks on individual political orientation and political support intensity using the German Socio-Economic Panel 1999-2003. Exploiting survey interview timing in 2001 for identification and controlling for unobserved individual heterogeneity, I find 9/11 to have increased overall political mobilization. While there is no indication of a considerable switch in support between political blocks, the attacks significantly weakened support intensity among left-wing voters and increased the strength of political support among right-wing voters, indicating a shift in conservative direction.


Parental Ethnic Identity and Educational Attainment of Second-Generation Immigrants,

Journal of Population Economics  28(4), 9651004, 2015, DOI: 10.1007/s00148-015-0559-7


A lack of cultural integration is often blamed for hindering immigrant families' economic progression. This paper explores whether there are in fact long-term consequences by investigating intergenerational effects of parental ethnic identity on the next generation's human capital accumulation. Results based on longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) indicate a positive role of both parental majority as well as minority identity. I find differential parental roles with impacts of majority identity working through mothers and minority identity effects being specific to fathers. While the positive effect of maternal majority identity appears to be closely related to language skills, the beneficial effect of paternal minority identity is consistent throughout various robustness checks and likely to be related to higher levels of children's feelings of self-esteem. Overall, the results point at integrated, rather than separated or assimilated family environments to be most conductive for educational success of the second generation.


Kick It Like Özil? Decomposing the Native-Migrant Education Gap, (with Annabelle Krause and Ulf Rinne),

International Migration Review 49(3), 757–789, 2015, DOI:10.1111/imre.12107

We investigate second generation migrants and native children at several stages in the German education system to analyze the determinants of the persistent native-migrant gap. One part of the gap can be attributed to differences in socioeconomic background and another part remains unexplained. Faced with this decomposition problem, we apply linear and matching decomposition methods. Accounting for differences in socioeconomic background, we find that migrant pupils are just as likely to receive recommendations for or to enroll at any secondary school type as native children. Comparable natives, in terms of family background, thus face similar difficulties as migrant children. Our results point at more general inequalities in Germany’s secondary schooling system which are not migrant-specific.


Evidence and Persistence of Education Inequality in an Early-Tracking System – The German Case, (with Annabelle Krause), Scuola Democratica 2, 2014, DOI: 10.12828/77684


This article reviews empirical evidence on the early tracking system in Germany and the educational inequalities associated with it. Overall, the literature confirms the existence of considerable social, ethnic, gender- and age-related inequalities in secondary school track placement. Studies on tracking timing and track allocation mechanisms reveal that postponement of the selection decision and binding teacher recommendations may reduce certain (mainly social) inequalities. Furthermore, recent evidence concerning long-term consequences of tracking on labor market outcomes suggests that sizeable built-in flexibilities in the German system succeed in compensating for initial (age-related) education inequalities. The paper concludes with an outline and discussion of the most promising pathways for future research in order to help design inequality-reducing policy recommendations.


Ethnic Diversity and Labor Market Success (Ethnische Vielfalt und Arbeitsmarkterfolg) (with Ulf Rinne and Klaus F. Zimmermann), Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung/ Journal for Labor Market Research 44(1), 81-89, 2011.


The economic potential of ethnic and cultural diversity is often underestimated. This paper summarizes a number of recent studies which show that “soft” factors such as attitudes, perceptions and identities - and in particular ethnic identities - significantly affect economic outcomes. More specifically, the studies analyze the process of cultural integration over migrant generations as well as the process of job search and labor market reintegration of the unemployed. The economy can thus gain productivity and efficiency by recognizing and incorporating such multi-ethnic factors. Cultural assimilation that goes along with a loss of migrants’ own cultural heritage does not appear to be the sole or dominant strategy of an economically successful integration. To tap the full potential of ethnic and cultural diversity, an increased cultural and ethnic open-mindedness of the native population is desirable.

Publications, non-refereed


Maschinelles Lernen in der ökonomischen Forschung (Matthias Huber, Marc Stöckli and Klaus Wohlrabe), ifo Schnelldienst 71(7), 50-53, 2018. 


Die Digitalisierung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft bleibt nicht ohne Wirkung auf Arbeitsmarkt und Wachstum. Welche Effekte sind aber tatsächlich von dieser "digitalen Revolution" für wen und wo zu erwarten? Die Autoren bieten einen Überblick über den aktuellen Forschungsstand und beleuchten Studienergebnisse. Sie erwarten deutlich positive Wachstumsimpulse durch die Umsetzung von Industrie 4.0. Deren Beschäftigungswirkung ist allerdings ambivalent. Politischer Handlungsbedarf besteht sowohl in Hinblick auf Bildung und Flexibilisierung des Arbeitsmarktes als auch auf die Förderung einer intensiveren Nutzung bereits bestehender Breitbandinfrastruktur.


Querschnittstechnologie Internet – Universallösung für den Arbeitsmarkt der Zukunft? (with Oliver Falck), Wirtschaftsdienst  96(8), 609-613, 2016. 


Die Digitalisierung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft bleibt nicht ohne Wirkung auf Arbeitsmarkt und Wachstum. Welche Effekte sind aber tatsächlich von dieser "digitalen Revolution" für wen und wo zu erwarten? Die Autoren bieten einen Überblick über den aktuellen Forschungsstand und beleuchten Studienergebnisse. Sie erwarten deutlich positive Wachstumsimpulse durch die Umsetzung von Industrie 4.0. Deren Beschäftigungswirkung ist allerdings ambivalent. Politischer Handlungsbedarf besteht sowohl in Hinblick auf Bildung und Flexibilisierung des Arbeitsmarktes als auch auf die Förderung einer intensiveren Nutzung bereits bestehender Breitbandinfrastruktur.


Schulkarrieren: Die soziale Herkunft ist wichtiger als der Migrationshintergrund (with Annabelle Krause, Ulf Rinne), PERSONALquarterly 03/13, 21-25, 2013


Forschungsfrage: Stellen die im Mittel geringeren Bildungserfolge von Kindern mit Migrationshintergrund ein spezifisches Problem dieser Personengruppe dar oder lassen sich diese Unterschiede auf den sozio-ökonomischen Status ihrer Familien – unabhängig vom Migrationshintergrund – zurückführen?

Methodik: Statistische Analyse von Haushaltsdaten mittels Matching-Verfahren.

Praktische Implikationen: Einfache Mittelwertvergleiche können irreführend sein. Falls die Förderung benachteiligter Gruppen zu den personalpolitischen Zielen eines Unternehmens zählt, sollte die soziale Herkunft als relevante Dimension stärker in den Fokus rücken.

Working Papers


Internet and Voting in the Web 2.0 Era: Evidence from a Local Broadband Policy IZA Discussion Paper 9991, FBK-IRVAPP WP 2016-08, CESifo WP 6129, 2016 (with Samuele Poy), under review


This article analyzes the impact of a local broadband expansion policy on electoral turnout and party vote share. We exploit a unique policy intervention involving staged broadband infrastructure installation across rural municipalities in the Province of Trento (Italy), thus generating a source of exogenous (spatial and temporal) variation in the provision of advanced broadband technology (ADSL2+). Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find positive effects of broadband availability on overall electoral turnout at national parliamentary elections. Party vote share analysis shows significant shifts across the ideological spectrum. These shifts, however, are likely transitory rather than persistent. Placebo estimations support a causal interpretation of our results. We provide further evidence that broadband availability is linked to actual adoption in that the broadband policy increased overall Internet and broadband take-up among private households.



Ethnic Spatial Dispersion and Immigrant Identity, IZA Discussion Paper 7868, 2013 (with Amelie F. Constant and Klaus F. Zimmermann), under review


Ethnic groups tend to agglomerate and assemble, mostly in urban areas. While ethnic clustering is critically debated in societies and the consequences for economic outcomes are under debate in research, the process is not yet well understood. A separate literature has also examined the cultural and ethnic identity of immigrants and how these affect their economic performance and societal integration. However, an unexplored channel connects ethnic clustering with ethnic identity formation. Therefore, this paper examines the role of ethnic geographic clustering in the sociocultural integration of immigrants. It employs survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, combined with disaggregated information at a low geographical level from the unexploited German full census of 1970 and 1987. We employ the exogenous placement of immigrants during their recruitment in the 1960s and 1970s and find that local co-ethnic concentration affects immigrants’ cultural integration. Residential ethnic clustering strengthens immigrants’ retention of an affiliation with their respective country of origin and weakens identification with the host society. The effects are nonlinear and only become significant at relatively high levels of co-ethnic concentration for the minority identity and at very low levels of local concentration for the majority identity. Our findings are robust to the use of an instrumental variable approach.



Work in Progress


Effects of Broadband Diffusion and Adoption among Micro-Firms (with Giulia Canzian and Davide Aloini)