The D-Lab Seminar Series

  • D-Lab Seminar Series, 22 April 2020: Carlos J. Gil-Hernández

Carlos J. Gil-Hernández (European University Institute) will present his work entitled "Does Hard Work Beat Talent? The (Unequal) Interplay between Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills"


"It has long been argued that non-cognitive traits such as perseverance and motivation might outplay cognitive ability in explaining status-attainment. Cognitive and non-cognitive skills are key predictors of educational success, and indicators of merit for liberal theories of equal opportunity. Yet, even when accounting for socioeconomic inequalities in the nurturing of these skills, disadvantaged pupils are less likely to make it to college. Compensatory theories posit that socioeconomic inequality in educational transitions is largest among low-skilled students. Cognitive and non-cognitive skills may be complements or substitutes in predicting educational outcomes. Thus, I argue that high-SES students may be particularly able to compensate for low cognitive skills with high non-cognitive skills, signalling to teachers their determination to succeed. I draw from the National Educational Panel Study to study a cohort of German students from grade 1-to-5. At grade 5, students are channelled into academic or vocational tracks according to performance, teachers’ recommendations and parental choice. To minimize selective attrition bias and confounding, I apply inverse probability weights and school fixed-effects. I report four findings: (1) High-SES students at the same level of skills than low-SES classmates are more likely to opt for the academic track; (2) these inequalities are largest among low-skilled students; (3) high-SES students are better able to compensate for low cognitive skills with high non-cognitive skills; (4) teachers’ bias in grading and track recommendations, along with overambitious aspirations of high-SES families, partially account for results. These findings challenge the (liberal) conception of merit as the sum of ability plus effort in assessing equality of opportunity in education."

  • D-Lab Seminar Series, 21 January 2020: Eva Zschirnt

Eva Zschirnt (European University Institute) will present her work entitled "Ethnic Discrimination in the Swiss Labour Market - 

Ethnic Hierarchies in Correspondence Test Results"


"Since discrimination is no longer an overt and easily observable phenomenon, research on discrimination, and especially on ethnic discrimination in hiring decisions, has become more challenging. While economic disparities between natives, immigrants and the second generation can be quantified using available economic data, measuring discrimination in hiring is more difficult.

Using the case of Switzerland, a country with a very high share of immigrants in its resident population, a correspondence test on hiring discrimination against foreign named job applicants was conducted and paired applications were send in response to more than 800 job vacancies. The findings show that across all groups, foreign named candidates have to write 1.3 times as many applications to be invited for a job interview, compared to applicants with typical Swiss names – however, these figures differ strongly depending on the ethnic origin of the minority candidates and the occupations they apply for. While most field experiments stop at this point, the correspondence test results are complemented with information on the time elapsed until candidates were contacted, as well as qualitative differences in invitation or rejection emails, showing that there is also subtle discrimination at play in the hiring process."

  • D-Lab Seminar Series, 18 December 2019: Leire Salazar

Leire Salazar (Associate Professor, UNED) will present her work (with Hector Cebolla) entitled "The Interaction between Maternal Resources and Environmental Stressors: Social Inequality in Birth Outcomes in Spain"


"We know little about environmental influences on birth weight. In this paper we exploit the earthquake that took place in the municipality of Lorca (region of Murcia, Spain) in 2011 to evaluate the potential buffering role of maternal characteristics on birth weight. Using a difference in difference approach, we answer two specific sets questions: (1) Whether there is an association between (degrees of) exposure to the earthquake and lower birth weight; and whether this comes via reduced gestational age or restricted intrauterine growth. In order to address this question, we compare children exposed to the earthquake to different extents, using the various intensities experienced by Lorca and surrounding municipalities as registered in official records and linking them to birth certificates at the local level. (2) Is this adverse impact homogeneously distributed across families with various socioeconomic resources? The main mechanism by which this event is expected to affect birth outcomes (in our case, birth weight) is stress. Stress during pregnancy is associated with preterm births and inferior infant health outcomes (Lauderdale, 2006; Dole et al, 2003). We therefore explore whether socioeconomic resources play any protective role against the adverse effects of the disaster."

  • D-Lab Seminar Series, 19 November 2019: Jani Erola

Jani Erola (Director of INVEST Research Flagship Center & Sociology Professor of University of Turku) will present his work (with Hannu Lehti, Tina Baier & Aleksi Karhula) entitled "Socioeconomic background and gene-environment interplay in social stratification across the early life course in Finland". 


"There is little research on how parents’ resources are related to the genetic effects on offsprings’ status related attainment. In this study we ask 1) to what extent parents’ socioeconomic characteristics shape genetic effects on children’s’ education, occupational standing and income; 2) does this vary over children’s early life course; and 3) are there differences across the social strata? We analyse high-quality data on all Finnish twins born 1975-1986, acquired from administrative registers.  We use the classical twin design to estimate the relative importance of genes (ACE-variance decomposition).  The outcomes include children’s education,  socioeconomic status (ISEI) and income.  Similarly, our explanatory, parental characteristics include education, ISEI and income, observed at five stages of the early life course of the children (age 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25). According to results the overall genetic effects attributed to parental socioeconomic characteristics do not vary much over the children’s early life course stage they are observed at. Rather, the strength of genetic and shared environmental effects depend on when the maturity in a socioeconomic outcome is reached. Both genetic and shared environment matters the most for education that is also achieved earliest and least for income, peaking as the last of the three outcomes. The importance of parents’ resources for the genetic expression in socioeconomic attainments also differs across the social strata. Among the highly educated families, parents’ characteristics account over one sixth of genetic influences, while in less educated families parents’ resources explain less than five percent at the maximum."

  • D-Lab Seminar Series, 22 May 2019: Daniel Guinea-Martin


Daniel Guinea-Martin (UNED) will present his publication (with Ricardo Mora (UC3M) and Javier Ruiz-Castillo (UC3M)) entitled "The Evolution of Gender Segregation over the Life Course".




"We propose a measure of gender segregation over the life course that includes differences between women and men in occupational allocation, degree of time involvement in paid work, and their participation in different forms of economic activity and inactivity, such as paid work, homemaking, and retirement. We pool 21 Labour Force Surveys for the United Kingdom to measure, compare, and add up these various forms of segregation—occupational, time-related, and economic—from 1993 to 2013 (n = 1,815,482). The analysis relies on the Strong Group Decomposability property of the Mutual Information index. There are four main findings. First, the marketplace is the major contributor to gender segregation. Second, over the life course, the evolution of gender segregation parallels the inverted U-shaped pattern of the employment rate. Third, a tradeoff between occupational and non-occupational sources of segregation defines three distinct stages in the life course: the prime childbearing years, the years when children are school age and the retirement years. Fourth, to a large extent, women’s heterogeneity drives age patterns in segregation."

  • D-Lab Seminar Series, 7 March 2019: Javier G. Polavieja 


Javier G. Polavieja (Banco Santander Professor of Sociology and Director of the D-Lab at the Department of Social Sciences, UC3M) will present his work (with Bram Lancee, María Ramos, Susanne Veit, and Ruta Yemane) entitled "Phenotypic Discrimination in Europe: Results from a Comparative Field Experiment in Hiring in Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain".




"We present the results of the largest comparative field experiment on phenotypic discrimination in hiring ever carried out in Europe. The experiment was conducted simultaneously and with a fully harmonised methodology in Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. We sent fictitious résumés to real vacancies randomly varying the treatments for ethnicity (signalled foremost by ethnic names) and phenotype (signalled using applicants’ photographs). Fictitious applicants are young-adult country nationals born to parents from 44 different countries of ancestry (N≈12,900). We examine average differences in callback rates across four racial groups comprising sixteen different photographs carefully matched in dimensions of attractiveness and likeability. We exploit full racial variation in applicants coming from four regions of ancestry (Europe & US, the Middle East & North Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, and Asia) to obtain net phenotypic discrimination estimates. We find significant discrimination against minority racial groups, particularly against black applicants, in all three countries studied, as well as some indication of racial hierarchies, particularly in the Netherlands and Germany. We also find evidence suggestive of phenotype-ethnicity intersections, whereby the same phenotype elicits a different response depending on applicants’ ethnic background. Phenotypic discrimination seems highest in the Netherlands and is lowest in Spain. Implications are discussed."



  • D-Lab Seminar Series, 29 November 2018: Daniel Ramirez Smith 


Daniel Ramirez Smith (Pennsylvania State University) will present his working paper (collaborated with Michael Gaddis, University of California, Los Angeles) entitled "Je suis Charlie: A study on the effects of terrorism on out-group and in-group attitudes". 




"The literature on the impact of terrorist attacks on attitudes has traditionally emphasized a dual effect consisting of a heightening of in-group solidarity as well as increases of anti-immigrant sentiment. Using a natural experiment framework, this paper studies the effect of the Charlie Hebdo attack on anti-Muslim sentiment and in-group solidarity in Europe. The results suggest the attack increased negative attitudes toward Muslims in countries that have traditionally had little contact with immigration. In countries that are traditional recipients of immigration flows, there are no effects of the Charlie Hebdo attack on Muslim rejection. Conversely, results suggest France responded to the terrorist attack within-group solidarity in the form of increases in institutional trust and perceived political efficacy.  The strong reaction of France towards in-group solidarity without increases in anti-Muslim sentiment provides evidence in-group & out-group reactions are not necessarily coupled."

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