Professor Arnaud Chevalier | Head of Department Economics
“My why… is exploring how the economy impacts family decisions."
I’m particularly interested in how individuals make decisions regarding education, health or even fertility; with this knowledge, and economic models we can help designing policies giving all the same opportunities. Do children conceived when economic conditions are very uncertain exhibit different life outcomes, and what could be the reasons? To answer this question, I and Professor Olivier Marie (Erasmus University) study the children born just after the unexpected fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. This event led to a high level of economic uncertainty and a massive drop in birth. Compared to their peers conceived just before the end of communism in East Germany, these ‘Children of the Wall’ perform much worse at school from an early age, and are over-represented among low achievers. Importantly, despite not being substantially poorer, these parents provided less educational input to their children. The children themselves rate their emotional relationship with their mothers very poorly, as do their older siblings, although they were born in the relatively certain times of East German Communism. We thus conclude that this small cohort born after the fall of the wall was composed of children whose parents were less skilled at parenting. Policies like early childcare/ parenting help should be implemented to mediate the effect of being born in such a cohort.