Lisa K. Simon

PhD Student in Economics at the University of Munich and the ifo Institute

ifo Center for the Economics of Education

I am a fifth year PhD Student at LMU University of Munich in Economics, working at the ifo Institute, Centre for the Economics of Education.

My research interests lie in the fields of Labor Economics, Economics of Education and Health Economics. My primary advisor is Ludger Woessmann, my secondary advisor is Davide Cantoni.

I am on the job market this year and will be available for interviews at the the 2019 ASSA meetings in Atlanta.


  • PhD in Economics, Ludwig-Maximilans University Munich, Germany, MGSE PhD Programme and Junior Economist at ifo Institute (2014- expected 2019)
  • Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (2016/2017)
  • MSc Economics and Public Policy, SciencesPo Paris, École Polytechnique, ENSAE (2012-2014)
  • BA Hons Economics and International Relations, Lancaster University (2009-2012)


Job Market Paper:

Shocking Choice: Trade Shocks, Local Labour Markets and Vocational Occupation Choices

Whether individuals choose occupations that teach them general or specific skills can have important implications on how protected they are to changing conditions on the labor market. This paper looks at the impact of growing up in German regions that are exposed to structural change on individual vocational occupation choices. Exogenous variation in local labor market structural change stems from shift-share type import shocks from China and Eastern Europe, which are instrumented by trade with other high income countries. Using longitudinal administrative social security data, results show that individuals surprisingly chose more skill-specific occupations as a result of higher local import competition. Lifetime earnings are adversely affected by being exposed to import competition during adolescence, which can be explained by occupational choice. The results are not driven by labor demand, nor endogenous sorting into vocational education.

Download Paper

Entry Barriers and the Labor Market Outcomes of Incumbent Workers: Evidence from a Deregulation Reform in the German Crafts Sector, with Philipp Lergetporer and Jens Ruhose

We study the labor market outcomes of a deregulation reform in Germany that removed licensing requirements to become self-employed in some occupations. Using longitudinal social security data, we implement a matched difference-in-differences design with entropy balancing to account for observable characteristics and unobserved individual heterogeneity. The reform tripled the number of businesses within ten years and led to slower earnings growth and higher unemployment for incumbent workers in deregulated occupations. However, the reform effect seems rather small, which we attribute to the relatively low competitiveness of new businesses. Supporting this view, the reform did not lead to overall employment growth.

Download IZA Working Paper, IZA DP No. 11857, September 2018

Skills, Signals, and Employability: An Experimental Investigation, with Marc Piopiunik, Guido Schwerdt and Ludger Woessmann

As skills of labor-market entrants are usually not directly observed by employers, individuals acquire skill signals. To study which signals are valued by employers, we simultaneously and independently randomize a broad range of skill signals on pairs of resumes of fictitious applicants among which we ask a large representative sample of German human-resource managers to choose. We find that signals in all three studied domains – cognitive skills, social skills, and maturity – have a significant effect on being invited for a job interview. Consistent with the relevance, expectedness, and credibility of different signals, the specific signal that is effective in each domain differs between apprenticeship applicants and college graduates. While GPAs and social skills are significant for both genders, males are particularly rewarded for maturity and females for IT and language skills. Older HR managers value school grades less and other signals more, whereas HR managers in larger firms value college grades more.

Download CESifo Working Paper, No. 6858, January 2018

Does the education level of refugees affect natives' attitudes?, with Philipp Lergetporer and Marc Piopiunik

In recent years, Europe has experienced an unprecedented influx of refugees. While natives’ attitudes toward refugees are decisive for the political feasibility of asylum policies, little is known about how these attitudes are shaped by refugees’ characteristics. We conducted survey experiments with more than 5,000 university students in Germany in which we exogenously shifted participants’ beliefs about refugees’ education level through information provision. Consistent with economic theory, beliefs about refugees’ education significantly affect concerns about labor market competition. These concerns, however, do not translate into general attitudes because economic aspects are rather unimportant for forming attitudes toward refugees.

Download CESifo Working Paper, No. 6832, December 2017

Can Online Surveys Represent the Entire Population?, with Elisabeth Grewenig, Philipp Lergetporer, Katharina Werner, Ludger Woessmann

A general concern with the representativeness of online surveys is that they exclude the “offline” population that does not use the internet. We run a large-scale opinion survey with (1) onliners in web mode, (2) offliners in face-to-face mode, and (3) onliners in face-to-face mode. We find marked response differences between onliners and offliners in the mixed-mode setting (1 vs. 2). Response differences between onliners and offliners in the same face-to-face mode (2 vs. 3) disappear when controlling for background characteristics, indicating mode effects rather than unobserved population differences. Differences in background characteristics of onliners in the two modes (1 vs. 3) indicate that mode effects partly reflect sampling differences. In our setting, re-weighting online-survey observations appears a pragmatic solution when aiming at representativeness for the entire population.

Download CESifo Working Paper, No. 7222, September 2018

Health care coverage in OECD countries in 2012 , with Valérie Paris, Emily Hewlett, Ane Auraaen, Jan Alexa

This paper provides a detailed description of health coverage in OECD countries in 2012. It includes information on the organisation of health coverage (residence-based vs contributory systems), on the range of benefits covered by basic health coverage and on cost-sharing requirements. It also describes policies implemented to ensure universal health coverage –in most countries- and to limit user charges for vulnerable populations or people exposed to high health spending. The paper then describes the role played by voluntary health insurance as a secondary source of coverage. Combining qualitative information collected through a survey of OECD countries on benefits covered and cost-sharing requirements with spending data collected through the system of health accounts for 2012, this paper provides valuable information on health care coverage in OECD countries at a time universal health coverage is high on the policy agenda of many countries.

Download OECD Health Working Papers, No. 88, 2016

Work in progress

How Does Reducing the Intensity of Tracking Affect Student Achievement and Equity? Evidence from German State Reforms (with Ludger Woessmann)

Project funded by German Research Foundation

This project aims at identifying the effect of a reduction in the intensity of tracking on the level and equity of student outcomes in German school systems. We exploit the de-tracking reforms of the seven German states in a difference-in-differences approach. For our main analysis, we use two cohorts of the National Education Panel Study (NEPS): starting cohort (SC) 3 (5th grade) and SC 4 (9th grade). By comparing student outcomes when both cohorts are in 9th and 10th grade, the NEPS data provide a unique opportunity to study the competencies of students before and after the reforms. The reform effect is identified by comparing the difference in outcomes of students between SC 4 (pre-reform) and SC 3 (post-reform) in the seven reform states with the respective difference in the nine non-reform states. We will analyze effects on students’ achievement scores, attainment of 10th grade, secondary-school degree, and grade repetition, as well as heterogeneous effects by students’ socio-economic background.