Research

Research

I am interested in the consequences of social policies for the world of work, how labor market institutions affect unemployment and poverty, and how changes in worker organization shape employment and wages in Europe and the United States.

Working Papers

Employing the unemployed of Marienthal: Evaluation of a guaranteed job program
(joint with Maximilian Kasy)
registered as AEARCTR-0006706.
Working Papers: Stone Center, IZA, CESifo, Oxford INET, Oxford Economics.
Selected media coverage
English: The New Yorker, CNN, Financial Times, Forbes, Business Insider.
German: Der Spiegel 1, 2, 3, Die Zeit 1, 2, Der Standard 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ORF 1, 2, 3, 4.
TV & radio: ARTE 1, 2, ARD, ZDF, ORF 1, 2, Deutschlandfunk 1, 2, Ö1 1, 2, 3.
Policy impact: Summary, UN, EU 1, 2, 3, OECD 1, 2, 3, 4, ILO 1, 2, Governments: Italy, Austria.
Awards:
ESRC Prize for Outstanding Early Career Impact
Innovation in Politics Award
  WU International Research Fellowship, 2023
Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy dissertation grant
UC Berkeley Fellowship 2022/23 of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation
recording slides podcast in English
recording slides podcast in German
bibtex citation code dashboard policy brief

Abstract We evaluate a guaranteed job program launched in 2020 in Austria. Our evaluation is based on three approaches, pairwise matched randomization, a pre-registered synthetic control at the municipality level, and a comparison to individuals in control municipalities. This allows us to estimate direct effects, anticipation effects, and spillover effects.

We find positive impacts of program participation on economic and non-economic well-being, but not on physical health or preferences. At the municipality level, we find a large reduction of long-term unemployment, and no negative employment spillovers. There are positive anticipation effects on subjective well-being, status, and social inclusion for future participants.

Reframing Active Labor Market Policy: Field Experiments on Barriers to Program Participation
(joint with Anna Schwarz)
Experiment in progress, 2021-2023, registered as AEARCTR-0007141.
Selected media coverage: Der Standard, Die Presse, Kurier.
Awarded the Austrian Economic Association (NOeG) Dissertation Fellowship
bibtex citation code

Abstract Governments struggle to attract unemployed workers to their widely offered job training programs. In three randomized field experiments with 50,000 job seekers, we investigate the barriers to participation in job training programs by using informational interventions designed to encourage participation. Raising awareness about the availability of job training increased program enrollment by 18\%. Signaling program cost with a voucher on top to reduce internalized stigma increased completion by 28\%. Effects were sizable and concentrated among women and low-income job seekers. Notably, increased job training did not result in higher employment or wages. These findings indicate that while low-cost informational interventions effectively boost participation, the overall success of job training programs in enhancing employment prospects hinges on their fundamental design.

Declining Earnings Inequality, Rising Income Inequality: What Explains Discordant Inequality Trends in the United States?
(joint with Zachary Parolin and Nathan Wilmers)

Abstract From 2010 to 2019, personal earnings inequality declined in the United States (U.S.) for the first time in decades, yet household income inequality continued to increase. Discordance between the inequality trends reached its highest rate in recent history. We introduce a framework to decompose differences in inequality trends. We find that 46% of post-2010 discordance is due to changing household composition, namely a larger share of young workers living with their parents and combining low personal earnings with high household incomes. The remaining discordance stems from increases in private income among higher-earning households and declining redistributive effects of government transfers.

Worker Organization and Firm Performance: New Evidence from Union Membership Registries
(joint with Emanuel List)
Awarded the OeNB Anniversary Fund Grant 2023 - 2025

Abstract Do unions increase workers' wages at the expense of firm performance? For the first time at the national level, we exploit union membership records in Austria to understand this relationship. We show that worker organization goes hand in hand with higher wages without negative implications for labor productivity or firm profits. Works councils are more important than union density. Union density matters at the sectoral level where collective bargaining takes place while works councils shape wages at the firm level. Works councils matter most for low-road employers, while union density affects particularly high-road employers, consistent with rent-sharing theories.

Work in Progress


Journal Publications

5) Beggaring Thy Co-Worker: Labor Market Dualization and the Wage Growth Slowdown in Europe, ILR Review, forthcoming.
(joint with Paul Ramskogler and Aleksandra Riedl)
Awards:
Barnett Prize for the best paper of the year by a research student at DSPI, Oxford
SASE / Digit 2022 Early Career Workshop Award.
bibtex citation

Abstract As temporary employment has become a pervasive feature of modern labor markets, reasons for wage growth have become less well understood. To determine whether these two phenomena are related, we investigate whether the dualized structure of labor markets affects macroeconomic developments. Specifically, we incorporate involuntary temporary workers into the standard wage Phillips curve to examine wage growth in 30 European countries for the period 2004-2017. Relying on individual-level data to adjust for a changing employment composition, we show, for the first time, that the incidence of involuntary temporary workers has strong negative effects on aggregate wage growth. This effect, which we name the competition effect, is particularly pronounced in countries where wage bargaining institutions are weak. Our findings shed further light on the reasons for the secular slowdown of wage growth after the global financial crisis.

4) Capturing the COVID-19 Crisis through Public Health and Social Measures Data Science, Scientific Data, 2022, 9, 520.
(joint with Cindy Cheng, Amélie Desvars-Larrive, Bernhard Ebbinghaus, Thomas Hale, Alex Howes, Luca Messerschmidt, Angeliki Nika, Steve Penson, Anna Petherick, Hanmeng Xu, Alexander John Zapf, Yuxi Zhang, and Sophia Alison Zweig)
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Abstract In response to COVID-19, governments worldwide are implementing public health and social measures (PHSM) that substantially impact many areas beyond public health. The new field of PHSM data science collects, structures, and disseminates data on PHSM; here, we report the main achievements, challenges, and focus areas of this novel field of research.

3) Welfare state support during the COVID-19 pandemic: Change and continuity in public attitudes towards social policies in Germany, European Policy Analysis, 2022, 8(3), 297–311.
(joint with Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Elias Naumann)
Coverage: Resolution Foundation.
bibtex citation

Abstract Our analysis asks whether the pandemic situation affects welfare state support in Germany. The pandemic has increased the health and income risks calling for welfare state intervention. While increased needs, more deservingness, and higher state responsibility during such a crisis would suggest augmented support generally and among those at risk, this might be a short-term effect and cost considerations could reverse this trend. We study public attitudes towards four key social policy areas based on the German Internet Panel (GIP). We use three waves prior and further three waves since the pandemic had been declared in March 2020. The analysis shows both continuity in the popularity of social policies, in particular health and pensions, and some short-term increase in support for unemployment and family policies. The results after nearly 2 years suggest rather continuation with some thermostatic short-term boosts in support instead of any long-lasting change.

2) Cui bono – business or labour? Job retention policies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 2022, 28(1), 47-64.
(joint with Bernhard Ebbinghaus)
Summary: LSE EUROPP Blog, Social Europe.
bibtex citation replication data

Abstract Europe faces multiple challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the problem of how to secure jobs and earnings. In our comparative analysis, we explore to what degree European welfare states were capable to respond to this crisis by stabilizing employment and income for working people. While short-time work was a policy tool already partly used in the Great Recession, job retention policies were further expanded or newly introduced across Europe due to the pandemic in 2020. However, cross-national variations persist in the way in which these schemes were designed and implemented across European welfare states, aiming more or less towards labour hoarding to avoid mass dismissal throughout the employment crisis. We distinguish between business support and labour support logics in explaining the variation in job retention policies across Europe. Continental, Mediterranean and Liberal welfare states fostered more labour hoarding than Nordic or Central and Eastern European countries.

Pre-PhD

1) A Reversing Case within Trajectories of Liberalisation: The revival of neo-corporatism in Austria since 2008, Momentum Quarterly - Journal for Societal Progress, 2017, 6(4), 210-229.
Summary: LSE NETUF Blog, Arbeit und Wirtschaft Blog.
bibtex citation

Abstract The overall dominating trend of liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation has accelerated since the global economic crisis in 2008. Under the paradigm of competitiveness, a major policy goal has been the implementation of ‘structural reforms’ replacing neo-corporatist practices with market coordination. However, Austria’s coordinating institutions have been strengthened since 2008, contrasting the EU-wide liberalising trend. To explain this puzzle, government members’ biographies since 1983 were analysed, seven elite interviews conducted and official government documents evaluated. Under the logic of access, social partner organisations made active use of a ‘revolving door effect’, placing their employees as ‘interlocking directorates’ in government positions to gain influence on policies. For this ‘power-policy exchange’ social partners defended political compromises of the government and supported the weakened social democratic (SPÖ) and the conservative (ÖVP) party leadership. Such a ‘tactical alliance’ is fragile, as it depends on the interest constellation of actors involved, but outlines the remaining scope for domestic politics in an age of increased liberalising pressures from globalisation and EU integration.