Work in progress

Levelling the Playing Field: Knowledge Production in the Digital Age

with Jens Oehlen

80% of all journals are not freely available--even though access to existing knowledge is crucial for pushing the research frontier. In this paper, we examine the impact of Sci-Hub, an online platform providing free access to scientific articles, on knowledge creation. Using data on 300 million geo-coded download requests, and the near-universe of scientific articles we employ an instrumented difference-in-differences design. We find that Sci-Hub has significantly changed consumption patterns of scientific works, with a substitution of references from open- to closed-access publications. In turn, greater access to frontier knowledge resulted in higher-quality research output as measured by citations, but not more publications.


Extracting Organs, Losing Motivation? The Response of Medical Staff to Corruption News (available on request)

with Alida Sangrigoli, Giuseppe Sorrenti, and Gilberto Turati

We study the impact of corruption scandals on organ procurement by identifying the behavioral response of the medical staff once scandals are disclosed. We exploit two separate cases that occurred in one of the largest Italian hospitals that involved the management and a famous surgeon at the transplant center. We measure the perceived level of corruption via the number of newspaper articles covering those cases and create a new data set that includes the number of reported donors and the measure of perceived corruption. Our estimates suggest remarkable effects of corruption perceptions on organ procurement, but only when corruption involves the surgeons. An increase by ten articles on corruption induces a reduction in reported donors by about four units. We interpret the finding as the result of motivation crowding-out when medical staff members discover a colleague is corrupt.

Tenure(d) Gap: Affirmative Action in Academia

Women remain significantly underrepresented in academia, especially among full professors. In response, policymakers are debating affirmative action policies to close the gap in tenure rates. But to date, the public debate lacks empirical evidence showing that these policies help the representation of women. This paper evaluates the impact of a nationwide affirmative action policy by the German Ministry of Education that competitively provides start-up funding to departments appointing women to full professors. Since its first implementation in 2008, the `Professorinnenprogramm' has provided financing for appointing 671 women to full professors (20 percent of all women hirings). Using administrative data on all academic personnel employed at German public universities in a staggered difference-in-differences design and an instrumental variable approach -- exploiting that members of the rectorate are less likely to assign start-up funding to their own department -- we document two main findings. First, departments receiving start-up funding experience a substantial mechanical increase in the share of full female professors. In subsequent hiring decisions, however, these departments become less favorable toward female candidates. Second, increased exposure to female professors shifts gender attitudes. Departments exposed to the policy are more likely to hire junior female faculty and are more likely to collaborate with women measured through newly established co-authorships. Disentangling the effects by age and experience reveals that junior male faculty members drive both changes. The results suggest that affirmative action policies are an effective tool to increase the representation and perception of women in science.