Sonja Settele

Hi! I am a Postdoc at the Department of Economics at the Universtiy of Copenhagen. I am based at the Center for Economic Behaviour and Inequality (CEBI).

My research interests lie in health economics, behavioral economics and political economy. I work on applied questions using observational and experimental data.

Before joining CEBI, I did my PhD at Goethe University Frankfurt.

Here is my CV.

Contact: sonja.settele[@]econ.ku.dk

Research Papers:

How Do Beliefs about the Gender Wage Gap Affect the Demand for Public Policy?

I conduct a pre-registered online survey experiment with a representative sample of the US population to study the relationship between people's beliefs about the size of the gender wage gap and their demand for policies aimed at mitigating it. While the correlation between beliefs and policy demand is strong, the corresponding causal effect accounts for a minor share of the differences in policy demand across the political spectrum and by gender. Instead, correlational evidence suggests a larger role for deeply-rooted world views and preferences. I document that selective information acquisition may sustain individual beliefs in line with these preferences.


Beliefs About Public Debt and the Demand for Government Spending, with Chris Roth and Johannes Wohlfart, Revised and Resubmitted, Journal of Econometrics

We examine how beliefs about the debt-to-GDP ratio affect people's attitudes towards government spending and taxation. Using representative samples of the US population, we run a series of experiments in which we provide half of our respondents with information about the debt-to-GDP ratio in the US. Based on a total of more than 4,000 respondents, we find that most people underestimate the debt-to-GDP ratio and reduce their support for government spending once they learn about the actual amount of debt, but do not substantially alter their attitudes towards taxation. The treatment effects seem to operate through changes in expectations about fiscal sustainability and persist in a four-week follow-up.


Can cigarette taxes during pregnancy mitigate the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status? (with R. van Ewijk), Labour Economics, Vol. 55, December 2018, pp.130-148. [online appendix]

Smoking during pregnancy is most prevalent among women with a low socioeconomic status and is negatively associated with important infant health measures such as birth weight. Cigarette taxes decrease smoking among pregnant women and lead to improved birth outcomes, especially among those with a low socioeconomic status. In this paper we investigate whether increasing cigarette taxes also translates into improved educational attainment of offspring from a low socioeconomic background. In order to answer this question, we exploit variation in cigarette taxes across U.S. states over time and analyze tax effects on grade retention and school enrollment among a large sample of adolescents representative of the population. We find that higher cigarette taxes during pregnancy are strongly associated with improved educational outcomes of children from a low socioeconomic background, but seem to have no effect on children from a higher socioeconomic background. Our findings therefore suggest that cigarette taxes can be an effective policy instrument for mitigating the propagation of a low socioeconomic status from one generation to the next.