CHRISTOPHER RAUH (PH.D., UNIVERSITY AUTÒNOMA DE BARCELONA)
Christopher Rauh’s research focuses on the emergence and persistence of inequalities. While inequality in outcomes has been defended as a necessity to incentivize people to work hard, the persistence of inequalities raises concerns about equality of opportunity. Why do a child’s future earnings depend more on parental income in the US and the UK than in other developed countries? Is this related to the fact that the US and the UK also have more unequal distributions of earnings?
One line of Christopher’s research looks at the interplay of education and inequality. Clearly, high-quality education and human capital policies could potentially level the playing field in terms of education received by children of poor and rich families. However, countries with greater inequality tend to spend less on public education, therefore making education more dependent on parental earnings. Christopher hypothesizes that this is rooted in political economy reasons. In particular, Christopher notes that in the US and the UK, voter turnout is highly biased towards the educated. If the poor do not vote, public education expenditures will be lower as long as the richer households prefer financing education privately. Through differences in political participation, Christopher aims to explain cross-country differences in public education expenditures and evaluate the extent to which this can account for differences in inequality and intergenerational mobility.
The second line of Christopher’s research concerns the impact of early childhood environment – in particular the labour supply decisions of mothers- on long term labour market outcomes and inequality. He builds on recent research which has emphasized the importance of the cognitive development during the very first years of childhood, to argue that public preschool expenditures and maternal labour supply affect intergenerational mobility. This is based on the observation that, in most societies, mothers spend more time with their children than fathers do. Mothers do not only affect children’s cognitive development through the genes they pass on to them, but also through the time they spent with them. Therefore, when mothers work and all children are pooled in public preschools, we observe more intergenerational mobility than when children stay at home with their mothers. Christopher thus looks at differences in public preschool provision and maternal labour supply to shed light on whether differences in intergenerational mobility might have their roots at a very early age.