Discussion Papers

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Discussion Paper No. 300
November 16, 2021

Face Mask Use and Physical Distancing Before and After Mandatory Masking: No Evidence on Risk Compensation in Public Waiting Lines

Authors:
Seres, Gyula (HU Berlin)
Balleyer, Anna (University of Groningen)
Cerutti, Nicola (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change) 
Friedrichsen, Jana (HU Berlin, FU Berlin, WZB Berlin and DIW Berlin)
Süer, Müge (HU Berlin)
Abstract:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the introduction of mandatory face mask usage triggered a heated debate. A major point of controversy is whether community use of masks creates a false sense of security that would diminish physical distancing, counteracting any potential direct benefit from masking. We conducted a randomized field experiment in Berlin, Germany, to investigate how masks affect distancing and whether the mask effect interacts with the introduction of an indoor mask mandate. Joining waiting lines in front of stores, we measured distances kept from the experimenter in two treatment conditions – the experimenter wore a mask in one and no face covering in the other – in two time spans – before and after mask use becoming mandatory in stores. We find no evidence that mandatory masking has a negative effect on distance kept toward a masked person. To the contrary, masks significantly increase distancing and the effect does not differ between the two periods. However, we show that after the mandate distances are shorter in locations where more non-essential stores, which were closed before the mandate, had reopened. We argue that the relaxations in general restrictions that coincided with the mask mandate led individuals to reduce other precautions, like keeping a safe distance.
Keywords:
COVID-19; face masks; social distancing; risk compensation; field experiment; health policy
JEL-Classification:
I12; D9; C93
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Discussion Paper No. 299
November 15, 2021

Expectation Management of Policy Leaders: Evidence from COVID-19

Authors:
Haan, Peter (FU Berlin and DIW Berlin)
Peichl, Andreas (LMU Munich and ifo Institute)
Schrenker, Annekatrin (FU Berlin and DIW Berlin)
Weizsäcker, Georg (HU Berlin)
Winter, Joachim (LMU Munich)
Abstract:
This paper studies how the communication of political leaders affects the expectation formation of the public. Specifically, we examine the expectation management of the German government regarding COVID-19-related regulatory measures during the early phase of the pandemic. We elicit beliefs about the duration of these restrictions via a high-frequency survey of individuals, accompanied by an additional survey of firms. To quantify the success of policy communication, we use a regression discontinuity design and study how beliefs about the duration of the regulatory measures changed in response to three nationally televised press conferences by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers of the German federal states. We find that the announcements of Angela Merkel and her colleagues significantly prolonged the expected duration of restrictions, with effects being strongest for individuals with higher ex-ante optimism.
Keywords:
expectations; belief updating; covid-19; shutdown
JEL-Classification:
D12; D84; H12
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Discussion Paper No. 298
November 15, 2021

Social Mobility in Germany

Authors:
Dodin, Majed (University of Mannheim)
Findeisen, Sebastian (University of Konstanz)
Henkel, Lukas (European Central Bank)
Sachs, Dominik (LMU Munich)
Schüle, Paul (LMU Munich and ifo Institute)
Abstract:
We characterize intergenerational mobility in Germany using census data on educational attainment and parental income for 526,000 children. Our measure of educational attainment is the A-Level degree, a requirement for access to university. A 10 percentile increase in the parental income rank is associated with a 5.2 percentage point increase in the A-Level share. This parental income gradient has not changed for the birth cohorts of 1980-1996, despite a large-scale policy of expanding upper secondary education. At the regional level, there exists substantial variation in mobility estimates. Place effects, rather than sorting of households, account for most of these differences.
Keywords:
intergenerational mobility; educational attainment; local labor markets
JEL-Classification:
I24; J62; R23
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Discussion Paper No. 297
November 15, 2021

Fostering the Diffusion of General Purpose Technologies: Evidence from the Licensing of the Transistor Patents

Authors:
Nagler, Markus (FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, CESifo and LASER)
Schnitzer, Monika (LMU Munich, CESifo and CEPR)
Watzinger, Martin (University of Muenster, CESifo and CEPR)
Abstract:
How do licensing and technology transfer influence the spread of General Purpose Technologies? To answer this question, we analyze the diffusion of the transistor, one of the most important technologies of our time. We show that the transistor diffusion and cross-technology spillovers increased dramatically after AT&T began licensing its transistor patents along with symposia to educate follow-on inventors in 1952. Both these symposia and the licensing of the patents itself played important roles in the diffusion. A subsequent reduction in royal- ties did not lead to further increases, suggesting that licensing and technology transfer were more important than specific royalty rates.
Keywords:
JEL-Classification:
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Discussion Paper No. 296
November 15, 2021

Malleability of Preferences for Honesty

Authors:
Abeler, Johannes (University of Oxford, IZA and CESifo)
Falk, Armin (briq and University of Bonn)
Kosse, Fabian (LMU Munich and briq)
Abstract:
Reporting private information is a key part of economic decision making. A recent literature has found that many people have a preference for honest reporting, contrary to usual economic assumptions. In this paper, we investigate whether preferences for honesty are malleable and what determines them. We experimentally measure preferences for honesty in a sample of children. As our main result, we provide causal evidence on the effect of the social environment by randomly enrolling children in a year-long mentoring programme. We find that, about four years after the end of the programme, mentored children are significantly more honest.
Keywords:
honesty; lying; truth-telling; formation of preferences; experiments with children
JEL-Classification:
C90; D90; D64; D82; H26; J13
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Discussion Paper No. 295
November 15, 2021

The Origins of Gender Differences in Competitiveness and Earnings Expectations: Causal Evidence from a Mentoring Intervention

Authors:
Boneva, Teodora (University of Bonn)
Buser, Thomas (University of Amsterdam and Tinbergen Institute)
Falk, Armin (briq and University of Bonn)
Kosse, Fabian (LMU Munich and briq)
Abstract:
We present evidence on the role of the social environment for the development of gender differences in competitiveness and earnings expectations. First, we document that the gender gap in competitiveness and earnings expectations is more pronounced among adolescents with low socioeconomic status (SES). We further document that there is a positive association between the competitiveness of mothers and their daughters, but not between the competitiveness of mothers and their sons. Second, we show that a randomized mentoring intervention that exposes low-SES children to predominantly female role models causally affects girls' willingness to compete and narrows both the gender gap in competitiveness as well as the gender gap in earnings expectations. Together, the results highlight the importance of the social environment in shaping willingness to compete and earnings expectations at a young age.
Keywords:
competitiveness; gender; socioeconomic status; inequality; earnings expectations
JEL-Classification:
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Discussion Paper No. 294
November 15, 2021

Earnings Information and Public Preferences for University Tuition: Evidence from Representative Experiments

Authors:
Lergetporer, Philipp (TU Munich, ifo Institute and CESifo)
Woessmann, Ludger (LMU Munich, ifo Institute and CESifo)
Abstract:
Higher education finance depends on the public’s preferences for charging tuition, which may be partly based on beliefs about the university earnings premium. To test whether public support for tuition depends on earnings information, we devise survey experiments in representative samples of the German electorate (N>15,000). The electorate is divided, with a plurality opposing tuition. Providing information on the university earnings premium raises support for tuition by 7 percentage points, turning the plurality in favor. The opposition-reducing effect persists two weeks after treatment. Information on fiscal costs and unequal access does not affect public preferences. We subject the baseline result to various experimental tests of replicability, robustness, heterogeneity, and consequentiality.
Keywords:
tuition; higher education; information; earnings premium; public opinion; voting
JEL-Classification:
H52; I22; D72; D83
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Discussion Paper No. 293
November 11, 2021

Malaria and Chinese Economic Activities in Africa

Authors:
Cervellati, Matteo (University of Bologna, CEPR and IZA) 
Esposito, Elena (HEC and University of Lausanne)
Sunde, Uwe (LMU Munich, CEPR and IZA)
Yuan, Song (University of Warwick)
Abstract:
We present novel evidence for the influence of malaria exposure on the geographic loca- tion of Chinese economic activities in Africa. The hypothesis is based on the observation that many Chinese aid projects and infrastructure contractors rely on Chinese personnel. High malaria exposure might constitute an important impediment to their employment and productivity. Combining data on Chinese aid and construction projects with geo-localized information about the presence of individuals from internet posts reveals a lower density of Chinese activities and of Chinese workers in areas with a high malaria exposure. This e↵ect is mitigated partly through heterogeneity across sectors and immunity of the local population, through the selection of Chinese workers from regions in China with historically high malaria risk, and through the availability of malaria treatment.
Keywords:
infrastructure projects; malaria; disease prevalence; immunity; weibo
JEL-Classification:
F2; F6; J2; J6
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Discussion Paper No. 292
November 11, 2021

Patience and Comparative Development

Authors:
Sunde, Uwe (LMU Munich) 
Dohmen, Thomas (University of Bonn)
Enke, Benjamin (Harvard University)
Falk, Armin (briq and University of Bonn)
Huffmann, David (University of Pittsburgh)
Meyerheim, Gerrit (LMU Munich)
Abstract:
This paper studies the relationship between patience and comparative development through a combination of reduced-form analyses and model estimations. Based on a globally representative dataset on time preference in 76 countries, we document two sets of stylized facts. First, patience is strongly correlated with per capita income and the accumulation of physical capital, human capital and productivity. These correlations hold across countries, subnational regions, and individuals. Second, the magnitude of the patience elasticity strongly increases in the level of aggregation. To provide an interpretive lens for these patterns, we analyze an OLG model in which savings and education decisions are endogenous to patience, aggregate production is characterized by capital-skill complementarities, and productivity implicitly depends on patience through a human capital externality. In our model estimations, general equilibrium effects alone account for a non-trivial share of the observed amplification effects, and an extension to human capital externalities can quantitatively match the empirical evidence.
Keywords:
time preference; comparative development; factor accumulation
JEL-Classification:
D03; D90; O10; O30; O40
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Discussion Paper No. 291
November 1, 2021

The Legacy of Covid-19 in Education

Authors:
Werner, Katharina (LMU Munich and CESifo)
Woessmann, Ludger (LMU Munich and CESifo)
Abstract:
If school closures and social-distancing experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic impeded children’s skill development, they may leave a lasting legacy in human capital. To understand the pandemic’s effects on school children, this paper combines a review of the emerging international literature with new evidence from German longitudinal time-use surveys. Based on the conceptual framework of an education production function, we cover evidence on child, parent, and school inputs and students’ cognitive and socio-emotional development. The German panel evidence shows that children’s learning time decreased severely during the first school closures, particularly for low-achieving students, and increased only slightly one year later. In a value-added model, learning time increases with daily online class instruction, but not with other school activities. The review shows substantial losses in cognitive skills on achievement tests, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Socio-emotional wellbeing also declined in the short run. Structural models and reduced-form projections suggest that unless remediated, the school closures will persistently reduce skill development, lifetime income, and economic growth and increase inequality.
Keywords:
Covid-19; school closures, education, schools, students, educational inequality
JEL-Classification:
I20; H52; J24
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