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Anna Bindler (University of Cologne)

14 June 2023 @ 12:00 - 13:15


  • Past event


14 June 2023
12:00 - 13:15
Event Category:
Academic Events

Labor demand and workforce diversity: Evidence from two natural experiments

Abstract. Recent research has documented the lack of diversity in the labor market, especially in academia. Increasing diversity in the workforce is often stated as a goal and one of the challenges of modern labor markets. In this paper, we address the question whether diversity increases, even without any targeted policy interventions, when academic labor markets become tighter. We study the academic labor market for professors in Germany, a traditionally slack labor market in which males are over-represented and in which closed networks may play an important role. We explore two natural experiments that unexpectedly increased labor demand for professors. First, using newly digitized administrative data from the German Federal Statistical Office on academic staff during the German university expansion in the 1960s and 70s, we document an increase in the share of female professors from 0.6% in 1960 to about 4% in 1977. Second, we explore between-subject variation in university staff replacements in East Germany that followed the German Reunification. Using administrative micro-data on university personnel, we find that nine years after the fall of the German wall professors are significantly younger in the Social Sciences (strongly affected by replacements) compared to STEM subjects (barely affected), in the East relative to the West. There is no significant change in the share of female professors, but a significant and sizeable increase in diversity of academic backgrounds, measured by the university of the final post-doctoral qualification (habilitation). Our analyses demonstrate that positive labor demand shocks can contribute to more diversity and, even without targeted policy interventions, can have the potential to break up some of the “Old-Boys’ Club”.