I am an economist working at the Federal Ministry for Ecomomic Affairs and Energy of Germany. Until September 2020 I was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Applied Microeconomics at the University of Bonn.

My research interests include Behavioral Economics, Social Preferences and Public Economics.

eMail: sebastian.schaube (at) uni-bonn.de

Research interests: Social Preferences, Behavioral Economics, Public Economics

Curriculum Vitae


Institution formation and cooperation with heterogeneous agents

(with Sebastian Kube, Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, Elina Khachatryan), European Economic Review 78 (2015), 248–268

Working Papers

Self-selection of Peers and Performance

(with Lukas Kießling & Jonas Radbruch ) -- current version (December 2018)

R&R Management Science

In many natural environments, carefully chosen peers influence individual behavior. Using a framed field experiment at secondary schools, we examine how self-selected peers affect performance in contrast to randomly assigned ones. We find that self-selection improves performance by approximately 15% of a standard deviation relative to randomly assigned peers. Our results document peer effects in multiple characteristics and show that self-selection changes these characteristics. However, a decomposition reveals that variations in the peer composition contribute only little to the estimated average treatment effects. Rather, we find that self-selection has a direct effect on intrinsic motivation and subsequent performance. In light of our findings, we discuss implications for peer assignment rules more generally.

Previously circulated as IZA Discussion Paper 11365 (Feb. 2018)

Determinants of Peer Selection

(with Lukas Kießling & Jonas Radbruch ) -- CRC Discussion Paper 092 (May 2019)

Peers influence behavior throughout many domains of life. Yet, evidence on who people select as peers remains scarce. In this paper, we study whom individuals choose as peers and analyze individual determinants. More specifically, we relate peer choices to (i) relative performance, (ii) personality differences, and (iii) the presence of friendship ties. Our results document systematic patterns of peer choice: friendship is the most important determinant, individuals exhibit homophily in personality, and prefer similar, but slightly higher performing peers. This provides a rationale for estimating models of differential and non-linear peer effects and helps to understand reference group formation.

(Not) Everyone Can Be a Winner - The Role of Payoff Interdependence for Redistribution

(with Louis Strang) -- CRC Discussion Paper 097 (June 2019) - new version coming soon!

How does payoff interdependence affect preferences for redistribution? We experimentally implement a zero-sum setting and one in which everyone can be simultaneously successful. Across these, we compare redistribution given an identical level of inequality. First, two subjects’ performances in a real-effort task translate into chances of winning a prize. Across treatments, we vary the interdependence of payoffs: either there is only a single prize or both subjects can potentially win a prize at the same time. Afterwards, a spectator can redistribute the prize money. If payoffs are not directly interdependent, the average amount redistributed decreases by 14-22%. In additional treatments, performance alone determines the prize allocation. Yet, the impact of payoff interdependence remains unchanged. Comparing the settings with and without randomness, we find that its mere presence increases redistribution -- even though there is no uncertainty about the (relative) performance of the two subjects.

Cooperation and Redistribution: Does "bundling" foster institution formation?

(with Sebastian Kube) -- current Version (February 2019)

Social preferences are frequently thought to be key to mitigating cooperation problems. Yet, when it comes to the endogenous implementation of rules that are designed to overcome cooperation problems, there is growing evidence that social preferences can potentially hamper the joint formation of such "governing institutions". The problem is particularly pronounced if returns from cooperation are not evenly distributed among participating parties. In this paper, we analyze such situations, both from a theoretical and empirical perspective, to explore to what extent formal redistribution can alleviate the implementation problem. We find that bundling, i.e., embedding formal redistribution rules into the governing institution and letting parties decide over the adaptation of this combined institution, induces very high implementation rates. By contrast, coordination problems arise if redistribution is also available separately from, rather than being an integral component of, the governing institution; resulting in significantly lower cooperation rates compared to the bundled case.

Peer Evaluations and Compensation Schemes (preliminary version available upon request)

Peer evaluations are frequently used if an employee’s performance is hard or even impossible to observe by a principal. If, however, the evaluating peer is in direct competition with the evaluated peer for bonuses or promotions, incentives for truthful reporting might be reduced.In this paper I analyze such situations theoretically and empirically using a laboratory experiment to explore to what extent team incentives and thereby reciprocity can encourage truthful evaluations. The laboratory experiment uses a real effort task and a rank‐order tournament, where the prizes are distributed on basis of the mutual evaluations of the tournament participants. I find that the answer to the question depends on whether the participants i) can evaluate their peers individually or ii) have to rank them. Truthful rankings occur more frequently in the latter case, where any untruthful evaluation implies rewarding a peer for lower performance. By contrast, individual evaluations are less likely to reward agents for high efforts, as few positive evaluations are given. If team incentives are removed the frequency of truthful evaluations drops even further, irrespective of the particular evaluation mechanism, rendering the results of the tournament basically meaningless.

Current Projects

Task Autonomy and Motivation (with Timo Freyer and Jonas Radbruch)

Delegation under overconfidence (with Claudia Cerrone, Adrian Hillenbrand, and Andreas Klümper)

Workload Sharing in a Real Effort Dictator Game (with Jonas Radbruch)