The Political Economy of Education Policy: Results from the Ifo Education Survey

March 1, 2016, 13:45 h

Mannheim, Conference room B2,8

Ludger Wößmann


The quality of education has been shown to yield substantial economic returns. These will only be reaped, though, if policy implements educational reforms that ensure high educational quality. This gives rise to interesting questions of the political economy of education, i.e., the interplay between political forces and public opinion. The presentation will provide an overview of (a) results on the effects of educational quality on economic prosperity and (b) results on whether the German population is open to educational reforms and the extent to which this is affected by the provision of information. The first part will be based on macroeconomic research using international student achievement data and on microeconomic research using PIAAC data. The second part will be based on the Ifo Education Survey, an annual representative survey of public opinion on education policy in Germany. The survey contains several survey experiments where random subgroups of participants are provided with information – e.g., on the costs or returns of education – before answering the opinion questions.

About the speaker

Ludger Woessmann is Professor of Economics at the University of Munich and Director of the Ifo Center for the Economics of Education at the Ifo Institute. His main research interests are the determinants of long-run prosperity and of student achievement. He uses microeconometric methods to answer applied, policy-relevant questions of the empirical economics of education, often using international student achievement tests. Special focusses address the importance of education for economic prosperity – individual and societal, historical and modern – and the importance of institutions of the school systems for efficiency and equity. Further research topics cover aspects of economic history, economics of religion, and the Internet. His work was rewarded, among others, with the Gossen Prize of the German Economic Association, the Young Economist Award of the European Economic Association, the EIB Prize of the European Investment Bank, and the Bruce H. Choppin Memorial Award of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Woessmann studied economics at Marburg University, the University of Kent at Canterbury, and the Advanced Studies Program of the Kiel Institute for World Economics, where he subsequently worked. He received his PhD from the University of Kiel. He held the 2010 National Fellowship at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and spent extended research visits at Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is Fellow of the International Academy of Education, Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), and the Academic Advisory Council of the German Federal Ministry of Economics, Chairman of the Research Committee on Economics of Education of the German Economic Association, and coordinator of the European Expert Network on the Economics of Education (EENEE). He is co-editor of the Handbook of the Economics of Education and co-organizer of the annual CESifo Area Conference on the Economics of Education and held over 250 invited presentations. Among his over 250 academic publications are 75 articles in refereed journals, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic Literature, the Economic Journal, and the Journal of Public Economics, as well as several books. His research is regularly covered by the national and international media.