Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow

Guido Neidhöfer

ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, Mannheim

Research Focus

Guido Neidhöfer’s research focuses on the causes and consequences of economic inequality, social mobility, education, and migration. In his studies, he addresses questions such as: Why are social mobility and equality of opportunity so important for the society? Are education and learning the key to achieve it? What are the consequences of inequality of opportunity for future achievements and economic development?

Recently, his works aims at analyzing the short and long-run consequences of the COVID-19 crisis—and the associated school closures, income losses and health shocks suffered by families—on the human capital formation of disadvantaged children.

My plans for the fellowship period

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children have been unequal in several dimensions. Whether these effects will persist remains an open question. During my fellowship, I will estimate these long-term effects by analyzing the following research questions: 1) How will lockdowns and school closures affect the current and future capabilities of children from vulnerable households? 2) How can we prevent this to happen? To address these questions, I will estimate the impact of the pandemic on learning and human capital formation of children from different socioeconomic backgrounds for distinct developed and developing countries. Hereby, I will evaluate the effectiveness of educational policies and income support programs provided to families. Through counterfactual scenarios I will then project the consequences of these effects for social mobility and future earnings inequality. 

Besides of this newer research agenda, I will continue to work on my core topics of study: intergenerational mobility, migration, education, and development economics. In particular, I will study the relationship between local development and equality of opportunity, the intergenerational returns to parental migration decisions and the impact of economic shocks on human capital formation.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?

My research will contribute to the understanding of the lasting economic and social consequences of economic upheavals, such as the COVID-19 crisis, on human capital formation and children’s future opportunities. The results will help assess the impact of the crisis and evaluate the effectiveness of policy interventions to cushion its economic and social impacts.

Human capital formation is seen as a key mechanism to increase individual employment and life opportunities as well as social mobility. Investment in education is also regarded as a driving force behind socioeconomic development. However, economic upheavals, such as macroeconomic recessions, corona-related school closures or family income shocks, can impair efficient and equitable investment in education. Private and public insurance mechanisms to protect human capital investments from shocks therefore play an important role.

The findings of my research will contribute to the analysis of the effectiveness of educational and social policy measures to contain the negative impact of economic upheavals on the human capital formation of children and youth. The results should help to underpin the scientific and public debate on the medium and long-term consequences of economic upheavals on the formation of human capital with evidence-based analyzes and recommendations for action.