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Joachim R. Frick Memorial Prize

At the biennial "SOEP User Conferences" the Society of Friends of the DIW Berlin (Vereinigung der Freunde des DIW Berlin, VdF) honors the presenters of the best three paper presentations and the best poster presentation. Since 2012 this prize is dedicated to our former colleague Joachim R. Frick. The particular programm committee of the conference votes on the papers.

Prize committee

Philipp Lersch and Carsten Schröder honored the award winners in short speeches outlining the content and the value of the presentations held.
Dr. Constantin Terton, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Berlin (IHK Berlin), handed over the winners' certificates in the name of the prize sponsor (Society of Friends of the DIW Berlin, VdF).

Carsten Schröder and Philipp Lersch open the SOEP conference and welcome the participants.
© DIW Berlin / F. Schuh

Honored Papers

A Joachim Frick Memorial Prize 2022 for best presentation goes to Laila Schmitt from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München. In her presentation, Laila examined a central societal question: What can we say about the short- and long-term effects of part-time employment on wages?

The results show 1) negative short-term effects for current part-time work, which are much larger for men; and 2) negative long-term scarring effects explained by signaling for women and reduced work-experience for men. This highlights the various consequences of part-time work for social inequalities.

The presentation was very clear, well-structured and motivated. The contents were embedded in theory and the empirical implementation with asymmetric Fixed-effects Models state of the art. The topic under investigation certainly asks for more research and follow-up studies.

This combination of strength makes it a deserving winner of the Joachim R. Frick prize.

© DIW Berlin/F. Schuh

Another Joachim Frick Memorial Prize 2022 goes to Maximilian Blesch from Humboldt University Berlin and his coauthors Philipp Eisenhauer, Peter Haan, Boryana Ilieva, Annekatrin Schenker, and Georg Weizsäcker. In his presentation, “Biased wage expectations and female labor supply”, Maximilian examined whether false wage expectations cause female employees to engage in part-time jobs too often?

The authors document that female employees have upward biased expectations about wage growth in part-time employment. So, ex ante, they value these part-time jobs too positively. If they were aware of this, they would probably choose these jobs less often.

The paper is methodologically ambitious: it investigates the research question by means of reduced form estimations using a control function approach and a structural life-cycle model. It is also great that Maximilian et altera have collected data themselves: Specifically, they developed a module for the SOEP Innovation Sample to survey employees' wage expectations.  Such expectation data are still too rarely collected in many surveys.

In sum, the above-mentioned strength makes the paper another deserving winner of the Joachim R. Frick prize.

A final Joachim R. Frick Memorial Prize 2022 goes to Max Deter from the Bergische Universität Wuppertal and Martin Lange from the Leibniz Center for European Econonmic Research. In their study, “Are the Supporters of Socialism the Losers of Capitalism? Conformism in East Germany and Transition Success” they study how supporters and opponents of the socialist system in East Germany performed within the market-based democracy of West Germany after reunification.

They find that, first, protesters, who helped to overthrow the socialist regime in the Peaceful Revolution show higher life satisfaction and better labor market outcomes in the new economic system. Second, former members of the ruling socialist party and employees in the state-supervised sectors become substantially less satisfied. Third, they find that these results do not seem to be driven by individual reactions to the transition, but rather by the removal of discriminatory practices in the GDR.

Their well-motivated empirical examination was clear and convincing and the entire time span since unification was looked at. We also belief that their findings are relevant for economists, sociologists, and psychologist alike. This combination of strengths make the study another deserving winner of the Joachim R. Frick prize.

Prize committee

  • Charlotte Bartels (DIW Berlin)
  • Jan Goebel (DIW Berlin)
  • Hannes Kröger (DIW Berlin)
  • Stefan Liebig (DIW Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Holger Lüthen (DIW Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Diana Schacht (DIW Berlin)
  • Carsten Schröder (DIW Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin)

Hannes Kröger, Holger Lüthen, and Carsten Schröder honored the award winners in short speeches outlining the content and the value of the presentations held.
Dr. Constantin Terton, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Berlin (IHK Berlin), handed over the winners' certificates in the name of the prize sponsor (Society of Friends of the DIW Berlin, VdF).

© DIW Berlin

Constantin Terton (Photo: C. Kurka)

Honored Papers

The first Joachim R. Frick Memorial Prize 2018 went to Juan Palacios and his Co-author Steffen Künn from Maastricht University. In their presentation, "The impact of Housing Quality on Health and Labor Market Outcomes: The German Reunification",  Juan Palacios and Steffen Künn examine an important, but understudied policy measure implemented in the 1990s in Eastern Germany after the Reunification. They estimate the effect modernisation of Housing has on health and labor market outcomes. In doing so, they address a question of historical significance that can inform policy decision for the future. They use exogenous variation in the intensity of investments into renovation subsidized by KfW loans. They matched this intensity over time and region to SOEP data in which respondents reported whether their building was renovated. Using a modified difference-in-differences strategy and the longitudinal strengths of the SOEP and the fact that housing effects are bound to be effective in the long-term to show that there are small improvements in health as a result of modernization, but no effects on labor market outcomes. The study focuses on an understudied research area, linking housing policy to Public Health concerns in a developed country, combines historical data with SOEP survey measurements and makes use of regional variation and has a clear and convincing causal identification strategy. This combination of strength makes it a deserving winner of the Joachim R. Frick prize.

© DIW Berlin

From left: Hannes Kröger, Juan Palacios, and Constantin Terton (Photo: C. Kurka)

second price went to Benjamin Fischer and Dominik Hügle from Freie Universität Berlin. In their presentation, "Estimating Private and Fiscal Returns to Higher Education over the Life Cycle: A Microsimulation Analysis",  Benjamin Fischer and Dominik Hügle examine a central societal question: Is education worthwhile? The question is most relevant because substantial public resources are devoted to subsidize schools, universities and teaching institutions. In doing so, they are not only examining educational returns in terms of lifetime earnings. They also explore the implications for disposable household incomes, and the fiscal implications for the government. Methodologically, they make use of a dynamic microsimulation model feeding it with SOEP data. The methods are appropriate to the research question and were explained very well in the lecture. Their general message is that education is worthwhile for the vast majority. Good news for us! About Further, the return is larger pre than post tax. At the same time, the authors suggest that there is substantial heterogeneity in the returns. Particularly among women, there is a considerable fraction with negative returns. The authors also find positive fiscal returns – measured in terms of immediate lifetime tax/benefits for the single individual.

Another second price went to Stefanie Heyne and Jonas Voßemer from LMU and the University of Bamberg. In their presentation,  "The effects of unemployment on couples’ division of labor", Stefanie Heyne and Jonas Voßemer examine the change in amount of housework that is done by both partners in heterosexual couples after unemployment, taking duration effects into account. They use the long running questionnaire on specific housework and intra-individual change tasks to differentiate the impact of short and long-term effects of unemployment on the amount of housework. They find that men surprisingly increase their housework more than women after unemployment, possible because of the lower level they start with. The authors also take the partner into account and find that women slightly reduce their amount of housework when their spouses increase it, but men do not substantively reduce housework when their spouse becomes unemployed. The study combines two important fields of research labor market and household dynamics from a gender and household perspective.

© DIW Berlin

From left: Hannes Kröger, Stefanie Heyne, Constantin Terton (Photo: C. Kurka)

Best Poster

The 2018 Joachim R. Frick Best Poster Prize went to Tanja Fendel from the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) for her poster "The effect of housework on migrants' and native-born individuals’ wages." It deals with a current issue, which is considered from a new perspective. The poster shows that the gender-wage gap of migrants is larger than that of the natives. The explanation for this is the difference in the number of hours spent in household work. This underlines the importance of giving female migrants access to education.

Prize committee

  • Reinhard Pollak (WZB and Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Anette Fasang (WZB and Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)
  • Jan Goebel (DIW Berlin)
  • Jürgen Schupp (DIW Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Carsten Schröder (DIW Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin)

Carsten Schröder honored the award winners, and Christoph Raiser, Advisor to the Executive Board of the DIW Berlin, handed over the winners' certificates in the name of the prize sponsor (Society of Friends of the DIW Berlin, VdF).

Honored Papers

The first Joachim R. Frick Memorial Prize 2016 went to Markus Pannenberg from the University of Bielefeld. His paper “Let bygones be bygones? Socialist regimes and personalities in Germany” with co-author Michael Wedow makes an original contribution to the literature on the role of political regimes in personality. In it, Markus treats the separation and reunification of the GDR and FRG as natural experiments. His analysis shows that the GDR’s socialist regime had a long-lasting impact on personality: experience with this regime is associated with higher conscientiousness and a lower internal locus of control. These differences in personality also have implications for individual labor market outcomes. In sum, the presentation was clear and effective and provided a convincing empirical identification strategy, and the paper makes a valuable contribution to the literature.

The second Joachim R. Frick Memorial Prize 2016 went to Mathias Schumann from the University of Hamburg for his paper “Unlucky to be young? The long-run effects of school starting age on smoking behavior and health” with co-author Michael Bahrs. The paper addresses the causal long-run effects of early smoking using exogenous school entry rules as an identification tool. The authors report that raising the school-starting age reduces the risk of smoking and increases the likelihood of reporting good health in adulthood. The scientific committee is confident that the paper will be published in a prestigious international journal.

© DIW Berlin

From left: Christoph Raiser and Mathias Schumann

The third Joachim R. Frick Memorial Prize 2016 went to Janina Nemitz from the University of Zurich for the paper “Increasing life expectancy and life satisfaction: Are longer lives worth it?”. Her answer was that both life satisfaction prior to death and the proportion of satisfied life expectancy to total life expectancy at age 60 have decreased over time. Increases in variability of mortality offer one possible explanation. Janina provided an outstanding presentation from a convincing new perspective, and her research is of high relevance in the context of demographic ageing.

© DIW Berlin

From left: Christoph Raiser and Janina Nemitz

Best Poster

The 2016 Joachim R. Frick Best Poster Prize went to Claudia Boscher for her poster “Gender-specific effects of perceived income injustice on stress-related diseases.” The jury was unanimous in awarding this prize. She and her co-authors showed that women may attach more value to justice than men, and further, that perceived income injustice is a risk factor for stress-related diseases. In times of rising inequalities, her findings make a valuable empirical contribution to the public and scientific debate.

© DIW Berlin

From left: Christoph Raiser and Claudia Boscher

Prize committee

  • Johannes Giesecke (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
  • Marco Giesselmann (DIW Berlin)
  • John Haisken-DeNew (University of Melbourne)
  • Anika Rasner (DIW Berlin)
  • Carsten Schröder (Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Jule Specht (Freie Universität Berlin)

Honored paper

Christoph Wunder's paper "How does the stock market affect subjective expectations of the future? Evidence from linking financial data to survey responses" examines how economic expectations are formed, and in particular, the role of stock market information as determinants of these expectations. This paper is innovative in that it enriches the detailed information already available in the SOEP with that of daily stock market data. In so doing, this paper provides a deeper understanding of the information flowing into the determination of economic expectations and economic decision making. The author uses the exogeneity of the interview date to identify arguably causal effects of stock market information on expectations. His excellent presentation clearly demonstrated that economic expectations respond to short-term stock-market developments, as returns and variability over a 90-day horizon have the highest explanatory power. The scientific committee is confident that this paper can be published in a leading international journal.

Best Poster

Wouter Zwysen's work has been selected for the 2014 Joachim R. Frick Best Poster Prize for his very interesting findings based on the SOEP data. The jury was unanimous in awarding this prize to Wouter Zwysen for his poster "Family background matters for early careers - but not equally". The context of Wouter Zwysen's research deals with a very important question: What is the relationship between a family's background and economic context and individual economic outcomes-in particular, labor market outcomes? In the analysis, Wouter Zwysen uses standard explanatory variables, namely the income, education, and occupational prestige of the labor market participant. Zwysen follows the labor market success of individuals over time using the longitudinal features of SOEP data. Individual success hinges on a variety of determinants - some people being luckier than others. Although some persons are advantaged, they may be unlucky with the economic context at the time when they enter the labor market. For this reason, they may be less successful than initially less advantaged labor market participants. Comparing person A from an advantaged background with person B from a disadvantaged background, person A may be less successful initially than person B depending on when they enter the labor market. As the economic context worsens and the unemployment rate rises, this finding no longer holds true. Under these adverse conditions, the relationship reverses and the advantaged person has a higher chance statistically of coping with the adverse change in the economic context.

From left: Anika Rasner, Wouter Zwysen and Carsten Schröder
Photo: Filipp Piontek

Prize committee

  • Janet Gornick (City University New York)
  • Jürgen Schupp (DIW Berlin)
  • C. Katharina Spieß (DIW Berlin)
  • Nicolas R. Ziebarth (Cornell University)

Honored papers

For the first time this year, Joachim R. Frick Memorial Prizes were awarded for the best papers presented at the conference. The Conference Program Committee selected the following from the over 60 papers presented, based also on the recommendations of the session chairs (listed in alphabetical order). 

Arne Brekenfeld, Deputy Chairman of the Society of Friends of the DIW Berlin (VdF) intodruced the honoured papers and handed over the prizes
Photo: Stephan Röhl

Anja Oppermann, GK SOCLIFE, University of Cologne: "A New Color in the Picture - The Impact of Educational Fields on Fertility in Western Germany"

Committee comments: The paper by Anja Oppermann makes an original contribution to the extensive literature on educational attainment and fertility behavior. She used a sophisticated measure of education considering not only the level of educational attainment but also the field of education, a variable that has recently been included in the SOEP data release. She grouped educational fields according to the share of women in them and studied how long after graduation the first child is born. The results show that the field of education matters for women but not for men. The paper makes a valuable contribution to family and educational sociology, was presented clearly and effectively, and shows a good fit between theory and empirical modeling.

Arne Brekenfeld und Karin Sommerfeld
Photo: Stephan Röhl

Katrin Sommerfeld, University of Freiburg: "Higher and Higher? Performance Pay and Wage Inequality in Germany"

Committee comments: Katrin Sommerfeld's paper deals with the dramatically rising wage inequality in Germany over the last 20 years. The specific question addressed is whether the increased use of variable pay schemes is related to the increasing wage dispersion. Her key finding is that performance pay has led to an upward shift in the wage structure, but not to an increase in wage inequality. The presentation was clearly structured and used cutting-edge methods. The paper has outstanding chances of being published at a very high level.

Arne Brekenfeld and Fabian Pfeffer
Photo: Stephan Röhl

A special prize was awarded this year for the best lecture in the Special Session in Memory of Joachim R. Frick to Fabian T. Pfeffer, University of Michigan,
and Martin Hällsten, University of Stockholm for their work on: «Wealth Effects in Three Mobility Regimes. The United States, Germany, and Sweden.» 
The committee points out: "The presentations were not invited papers, but were sent in as part of the normal submission process, and we selected three that seemed especially fitting for this session. We want to honor one of these, not only for the quality of the presentation but also for the value of the research findings.

Best Poster

Frieder Kropfhäusser and Marco Sunder from the University of Leipzig for their poster on "A Weighty Issue Revisited: Accounting for Endogeneity and Non-linearity in the Association between Body Weight and Earnings in Germany."

Committee comments: "Not only the research question but also state-of-the-art methods and the attractive layout contributed to the outstanding nature of this poster".