All you need is love? The effect of labour market and family policy on partnerships
Young economist Dr Katrin Huber has received an award for her doctoral thesis at the University of Passau. In her thesis she uses microeconometric methods to examine the effects of income shocks, a change of the parental leave benefits system and the extension of public childcare on labour supply decisions in partnerships and on the development of children.
She is the first winner of the 8,000 Euro Karl Paul Hensel Prize: Dr Katrin Huber, a former research assistant at the Chair of Public Economics at the University of Passau, received the award for her research on the effects of labour market and family policy. According to the Doris and Dr. Michael Hagemann-Stiftung her thesis, which is entitled “Empirical Essays on Decision-Making Within Families: Determinants and Consequences of Family Labor Supply” contributes to “giving new academic insights and to further develop the regulatory policy (“Ordnungspolitik”)”. “For me, the prize is a great appreciation of my years of research work,” says Dr Huber, who is now working as a research assistant at the Chair of Empirical Economics at the University of Potsdam.
Dr Huber’s thesis comprises three academic essays, each of which stands alone. In each of the essays, she uses modern microeconometric methods to examine the following subjects:
• Income shocks and risk sharing within households: In the first essay, Dr Huber, together with her co-author Erwin Winkler, shows that income shocks can be (partly) offset in partnerships if couples are not equally affected by a shock. The authors demonstrate that wage inequalities due to the globalization of trade with China and Eastern Europe are much smaller when considered at the household level – income inequality decreases by up to 40 %.
• Career costs of having children: In the second essay, Dr Huber investigates which mothers particularly benefit from the provision of public childcare. She finds that the effects are most beneficial for women whose wages would rise very quickly with experience and for women who have specialist knowledge or a strong relationship with clients and are thus difficult to substitute. With the help of childcare, they can return to work more quickly and thus reduce their loss of earnings.
• Parental leave benefits and social development of children: In the third essay, Dr Huber examines the effect of the parental leave reform of 2007 on families in Germany. Under the old system only low-income families received subsidies. As the new system however is earnings-related and grants higher benefits to high-income families, low-income families all in all lost due to the reform. Dr Huber demonstrates that children from the loser families have a poorer socio-emotional development in the first two years after birth compared to the children of winner families.
“All three essays in the thesis deal with topics that are not only of academic interest, but are also extremely relevant from a political perspective,” explains Professor Stefan Bauernschuster, who supervised the summa cum laude thesis at the University of Passau. “The award proves the high academic standard of Dr Huber’s work.”
Katrin Huber worked on her doctoral thesis at the Chair of Public Economics at the University of Passau from 2014 to 2019. The paper on parental leave benefits is closely related to her master’s thesis, which she also completed under Professor Bauernschuster as part of her master’s degree in International Economics and Business. “I really enjoyed the atmosphere at the University of Passau and the supervision situation,” reports Dr Huber. “During my Master, it already turned out that I would pursue an academic career.” What she primarily liked about doing research was that she was able to investigate policy-related topics empirically and derive specific recommendations for political decision-makers from her analysis.
Professor Bauernschuster supported and encouraged her on this journey right from the start. For example, he helped her to present her work at international academic conferences. Two essays from her thesis have already been published in renowned academic journals:
• “All you need is love? Trade shocks, inequality, and risk sharing between partners” in the economic journal European Economic Review; link to the original publication: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2018.10.003
• “Changes in parental leave and young children’s non-cognitive skills” in the respected journal in the field of family policy Review of Economics of the Household; link to the original publication: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11150-017-9380-2
Dr Huber is associated with the team from the Chair of Public Economics at the University of Passau as an affiliated researcher. “We are currently working on new joint research projects,” says Professor Bauernschuster.
Dr Katrin Huber
University of Potsdam