Lukas Kiessling


I am a fifth year Ph.D.-candidate in economics at the Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE) 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. I am currently an affiliated researcher at 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    ⋅    Current version (December 2018)

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.

Previously circulated as IZA Discussion Paper 11365 (Feb. 2018)
Media coverage: IZA Newsroom (english), IZA Newsroom (german)

Determinants of Peer Selection

with Jonas Radbruch and Sebastian Schaube (draft available upon request)

Peers influence behavior in many domains. In this paper, 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 (i) relative performance, (ii) personality differences, and (iii) the presence of friendship ties. Our results document systematic patterns of peer choice: friendship is the most important, but not the only, determinant. Individuals exhibit homophily in personality, and prefer on average similar, but slightly stronger performing peers. Our results provide a rationale for estimating models of differential and non-linear peer effects and help to understand reference group formation.

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

(draft available upon request)

In this paper, I study parental beliefs about the returns to three factors affecting the development and long-term outcomes of children: the extend to which parenting is characterized by warmth as well as control, and the quality of the neighborhood. Based on a representative sample of 2,119 parents in the United States, I find that parents expect large returns to high warmth parenting and living in a favorable neighborhood. Exerting control is only expected to be beneficial when paired with warm parenting, and intensive parenting can compensate for living in a deprived environment. My results suggest that perceived individual-level returns are important for parental decision-making: they are predictive of actual parenting styles, but cannot be explained by standard socio-demographic variables.

The Gender Gap in Wage Expectations

with Jan Bergerhoff, Pia Pinger and Philipp Seegers (draft available upon request)

This study explores gender disparities in expected earnings trajectories before labor market entry. We elicit individual wage expectations at different points over the life-cycle, expectations about future job characteristics, as well as preferences and traits for a sizable and diverse sample of over 15,000 students. In a first step, we document that female students expect to earn 14-27 percent (accumulating to approximately half a million Euros) less over the life-cycle than their male counterparts. In a second step, we analyze the determinants of these differences paying particular attention to child-related labor force interruptions and negotiation styles. We find that negotiation styles strongly contribute to the gender gap, but not differences in child-rearing responsibilities. The latter finding stems from women experiencing a larger expected wage penalty for child-rearing rather than gender differences in family planning. Given the importance of wage expectations for labor market decisions and household bargaining, our results therefore provide a rationale for persistent gender inequalities.

Curriculum Vitae

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Contact Information

Bonn Graduate School of Economics
Kaiserstrasse 1
53113 Bonn