Chair of Labour Economics


    Winter Semester 2022/23


    Prof. Christina Felfe de Ormeño, Ph.D.

    Dr. Prateek Chandra Bhan, Ph.D.


    Maike Schlosser, M. Sc.


    Public Policy 2022-23 Overview:

    This course provides an introduction into public economics/finance. Public finance studies the role of the government in the economy. It basically answers four questions: When should the government intervene? How might the government intervene? What are the effects of those interventions? How to predict and assess them? Why do governments choose to intervene in the way that they do?

    The aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the process of making public policies of the government and to endow them with the necessary skills to analyse, assess and/or design public policies. Students will learn the core theoretical models of public economics as well as modern empirical methods of public finance and econometrics. The focus will not lie on the theoretical details, but rather on the beauty of the different methods to provide answers to public policy questions.

    The lecture will cover the following topics:

    1. Introduction into public economics/finance
    2. Theoretical tools
    3. Empirical tools
    4. Behavioural insights to public policy
    5. Externalities
    6. Public goods
    7. The cost-benefit analysis


    Structure in Winter Term 2022/23:

    The course will be offered in-person. The lecture slides will be made available to participants via WueCampus roughly every week right before the relevant lecture has taken place. There will be two tutorial groups. The lectures along with the tutorials will be in English.

    The tutorial will take place twice a week. The problem sets will be uploaded to WueCampus one week in advance of the respective tutorial in English. Students are strongly encouraged to practice these problem sets in advance. We will discuss the solutions during the tutorial, which will later be shared over WueCampus.

    In addition to the problem sets, we will share exercise test sheets containing some multiple choice questions (MCQs) as part of some lectures, which can help you prepare for the final examination. These tests will happen during the lectures. Participation in these tests is purely voluntary but students are encouraged. By participating in all four of these tests and performing well, students can receive extra points in the exam.


    Participants should be acquainted with the core theoretical models of public economics and well-informed about the basic empirical methods used nowadays for policy evaluation.


    Main reference for the lecture is Gruber, J. (2016): Public Finance and Public Policy, 5th edition, Worth Publishers, New York.

    Supplementary literature (as and where indicated in the lecture slides):
    Daniel, K. (2017). Thinking, fast and slow.

    Thaler, R. H., & Ganser, L. J. (2015). Misbehaving: The making of behavioral economics.


    Written exam (60 min.) - The exam will be made available in English and German. Students have the freedom to answer in German or English or both. The MCQ test/exercises will also be made available in English and German on an online questionnaire. Students are thereby requested to carry a laptop/tablet/smart phone in the lecture.

    Basic knowledge in microeconomics and econometrics.


    The tutorials take place on Thurday and Friday 8-10 h (Room: HS 317)
    Beginning: 10.11.2022 and 11.11.2022


    Prof. Christina Felfe de Ormeño, Ph.D.

    Update: The seminar will not take place in its usual form this semester. In case of interest please contact Prof. Felfe directly via email.

    Bachelor/Master Seminar Labor Economics: «Nobel Prize 2021 – The credibility revolution»

    Less people die while riding a motorbike than people die while lying in bed. Does this imply that beds are dangerous? While in this case, it may be straight forward to understand the statistical fallacy, there are plenty of other interesting questions in which it is hard to disentangle cause and effect.  For instance, it is complex to understand the causal effect of education on wages, minimum wages on employment, or immigration on employment, just to name a few relevant questions.

    The Nobel prize winners, David Card, Joshua Angrist, and Guido Imbens have developed a statistical toolkit to answer these questions. These causal analysis methods require curiosity to find settings that resemble the experimental ideal – so called natural experiments – and creativity to find the appropriate data. With a natural experiment and the appropriate data at hand the methods to be employed to provide causal answers to interesting and relevant questions are straight forward.

    In this seminar, students shall be acquainted with the intuition and the theory of the state-of-the-art causal analysis methods and familiarize themselves with these methods by working hands-on. The seminar will consist of theoretical lectures (5 in total) and a series of case studies where students will replicate original work by the Nobel prize winners in their early years. Students are expected to hand in their code (either in Stata or in R)!

    General information:

    The Chair of Labour Economics supervises Bachelor's theses in the area of labour, education, and migration economics. Topics usually relate to actual policy concerns, examples are discrimination, early child development, education, integration of immigrants, labour supply, peer effects, just to name a few. Theses should be of empirical nature using either primary (preferrably related to social politics in the region) or secondary data. The thesis can be written either in German or English. For more information regarding the formal and content-related structure of the thesis, see: Thesis Guideline

    Former thesis‘ topics:

    • The impact of parental benefits on parental gender norms
    • Gender stereotypes and occupational decisions of adolescents
    • Intergenerational changes for migrants in Germany
    • Acceptance of a universal basic income
    • Incorporating social identity into economic analysis


    It is highly recommended to attend the bachelor seminar in labour economics (5 ECTS, Module "Ausgewählte Probleme der VWL") where the students can discuss their ideas, elaborate a literature review and familiarize themselves with the appropriate empirical methodology. The thesis will build on these skills.

    There is no list with prespecified topics, but each students approaches the chair with his or her own idea. Following a written application including a short description of the idea and the motivation as well as a transcript of courses and grades, conversations with the members of the chair will help to finetune the exact topic. A close supervision is guaranteed and desired throughout the whole process of thesis writing.