Lukas Kiessling


I am a fifth year Ph.D.-candidate in economics at the Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE) and a research fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Collective Goods (MPI) working on topics in applied microeconomics and behavioral economics. In particular, I focus on peer effects and human capital formation. My supervisors are Lorenz Goette and Pia Pinger. Moreover, I am affiliated with the Collaborative Research Center Transregio 224 (CRC TR 224).

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Self-selection of Peers and Performance

with Jonas Radbruch and Sebastian Schaube

In many natural environments, carefully chosen peers influence individual behavior. Using a framed field experiment at secondary schools, we examine how self-selected peers affect performance in contrast to randomly assigned ones. We find that self-selection improves performance by approximately 15% of a standard deviation relative to randomly assigned peers. Our results document peer effects in multiple characteristics and show that self-selection changes these characteristics. However, a decomposition reveals that variations in the peer composition contribute only little to the estimated average treatment effects. Rather, we find that self-selection has a direct effect on intrinsic motivation and subsequent performance. In light of our findings, we discuss implications for peer assignment rules more generally.

Current version (December 2018)
(this version supersedes IZA Discussion Paper 11365 "The Impact of Self-Selection on Performance")
Media coverage: IZA Newsroom (english), IZA Newsroom (german)

Determinants of Peer Selection

with Jonas Radbruch and Sebastian Schaube

Peers influence behavior in many domains. We study whom individuals choose as peers and explore individual determinants of peer selection. Using data from a framed field experiment at secondary schools, we analyze how peer choices depend on relative performance, personality differences, and the presence of friendship ties. Our results document systematic patterns of peer choice: friendship is the most important determinant, albeit not the only one. Individuals exhibit homophily in personality, and prefer on average similar but slightly stronger performing peers. Our results help to rationalize models of differential and non-linear peer effects and to understand reference group formation.

Current version (May 2019)

Understanding Parental Decision-making: Beliefs about Returns to Parenting Styles and Neighborhoods

I study parental beliefs about the returns to two factors affecting the development and long-term outcomes of children: (i) parenting styles defined by the extent of warmth or control parents employ in raising children, and (ii) neighborhood quality. Based on a representative sample of 2,119 parents in the United States, I present four sets of results. First, parents expect large returns to the warmth dimension of parenting as well as high quality neighborhoods, but negligible returns to control. Second, they perceive the effectiveness of parenting to interact with the environment. Third, there is a large heterogeneity in perceived returns. They are more pronounced for females, but not associated to other socio-demographic characteristics. Fourth, parents' perceived returns map into their actual parenting styles highlighting their relevance. I conclude that parental beliefs are an important determinant of parental decision-making, but cannot explain socioeconomic differences in parenting.

(draft available upon request)

The Gender Gap in Wage Expectations

with Jan Bergerhoff, Pia Pinger and Philipp Seegers

This study presents evidence from a large-scale study on gender differences in expected wages before labor market entry. We elicit individual wage expectations at different points over the life-cycle, expectations about future job characteristics, working hours, and child rearing, as well as plans for prospective wage negotiations in a diverse sample of 15,000 German students from all regions and universities. In a first step, we present a range of stylized facts regarding the population-wide and major-specific gap in expected wages, distributional differences in ranks and levels, and differences in expected life-cycle wage-trajectories. In particular we show that female students expect to earn 14-27 percent ($\sim$ 500,000 EUR) less over the life-cycle than their male counterparts. In a second step, we examine the relative importance of a large number of potential drivers of these differences. Our findings indicate that child-related labor force interruptions only matter in terms of the timing of first birth, while differences in negotiation styles strongly contribute to the gender gap in wage expectations. Given the importance of wage expectations for labor market decisions, household bargaining, and wage setting, our results provide an explanation for persistent gender inequalities.

(draft available upon request)

Curriculum Vitae

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Contact Information

Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse 10
53113 Bonn