Simon Lüchinger, University of Zurich : "Valuing Air Quality Using the Life Satisfaction Approach" (first prize)
Committee comments: This paper values air quality by matching individual-level SOEP data with regional information on SO2 concentration, as documented by the state environmental agencies. The paper produces convincing evidence of a robust positive effect of clean air on individual life satisfaction. This paper demonstrates very innovative and creative research. It was a very good presentation, and the empirical analysis has been carried out very skilfully.
Peter Haan (DIW Berlin and PSE), Victoria Prowse (University of Oxford and IZA), and Arne Uhlendorff (IZA and DIW DC): "Employment Effects of Welfare Reforms: Evidence from a Dynamic Structural Life-Cycle Model" (second prize)
Committee comments: This paper investigates the causal effects of a fictitious welfare reform which would transform the traditional German welfare state towards a more Anglo-American system, in which a large proportion of transfers are paid as income supplement to the working poor. Using a dynamic structural life-cycle model, it shows that an employment bonus would have a positive effect on labor supply. The paper has an excellent research design and is highly policy-relevant.
Volker Ludwig and Josef Brüderl (both University of Mannheim): "The Male Marital Wage Premium: Further Results on an Enduring Puzzle"
Committee comments: This paper looks at the long investigated but still unsolved question as to whether there is a wage premium for married men as compared to unmarried men. Such effects are expected to occur due to gender specialisation and the domestication of married men. However, all the results of various empirical models in this paper speak in one direction: there is no causal effect of marriage. Married men simply earn more because of self-selection. The paper was clearly structured and nicely presented.
The prize for the best poster went to Gülçin Mentesoglu and Maarten Vendrik. The title of their poster is "Social Reference and Adaptation Effects on Happiness: A Dynamic Error Correction Approach".
According to the prize committee, "this paper estimates hedonic adaptation as a function of absolute income, relative income, and working hours, while controlling for the short and long-run dynamics of life satisfaction using a large set of control variables. The findings provide evidence that life satisfaction depends significantly on absolute income in the short run, but only on relative income in the long run. The poster has a very clear structure and a nice design; the presentation was elegant."