Thomas Siedler

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Current and Past Research Projects

Economic and Social Determinants of Political Preferences in Germany and the United Kingdom

Award/Grant Description:
  • The first theme, “The Dynamics of Preferences for Redistribution,” will first explore the reasons underlying the widespread acceptance of redistributive taxation, and second investigate how the changing econcomic and social situtation affect preferences regarding redistribution. How are these two issues affected by family background, and what role do the other dynamics of individual life development play in comparison—for example, individual accomplishments, the achievement of prosperity, work, income?
  • The second theme, “Attitudes towards Immigration,” will investigate the connection between political preferences and attitudes towards immigration. The social and economic implications of immigration have been a focus of public and scientific debate in recent times; proposals for stricter legislation and enforcement of immigration laws appear regularly in the political discussion and in electoral campaigns.
  • The third theme, “Political Party Affinity and Voting Behaviour” will study the socio-economic factors and framework conditions of political preferences based on left-wing and right-wing parties and their results in various elections across Germany. Whereas the idea that unemployment tends to encourage extremist political attitudes is heard repeatedly in the public debate, the academic literature on the connection between individual unemployment, the average level of unemployment, and extremism has yielded diverse and contradictory findings. There is still a broad lack of convincing empirical evidence. The project intends to close this gap.

  • We thank the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung for financial support.

    Family Structure and Adult Children's Location Decisions
    joint with Helena Holmlund and Helmut Rainer

    Award/Grant Description:
    Geographic distance between adult children and their elderly parents is an important determinant for the well-being of both generations and influences the frequency of contact between parents and children trough visits and phone calls, helping behaviour, mutual exchange of social and instrumental support and parental care decisions. This research looks at various determinants of adult children’s and their parents’ geographic proximity. The principal aim is to provide new evidence on the effect of family size on adult children’s location decisions. The more detailed objectives of the research are to provide answers to the following questions: Do adult children from larger families live further away from their parents’ residence because they have more siblings to share parental visits, intergenerational support and parental care decisions with? How does geographic location of adult children and their parents change over the life-cycle? Are there differences in child-parent geographic proximity between daughters and sons, and for siblings of different birth order? Do adult siblings who left their parents’ home live close to each other?

    We thank the Economic & Social Research Council for financial support under grant RES-000-22-2684.

    For a Non-Technical Summary please click here


    Meet the Parents? Family Size and the Geographic Proximity between Adult Children and Older Mothers
    (2013), 50(3), 903-931 with Helena Holmlund and Helmut Rainer

    Family Location and Caregiving Patterns from an International Perspektive
    Population and Development Review
    (2012), 38(2), 337-351 with Helmut Rainer

    People’s Trust: A Survey-Based Experiment
    joint with John Ermisch, Diego Gambetta, Laurie Heather and Noah Uhrig

    Award/Grant Description:
    Trust is an important lubricant for social and economic transactions but there has been very little academic study of this subject, particularly in the UK. This research project looks to remedy that by measuring trust and trustworthiness using a newly designed experiment using real monetary rewards in a near-representative sample of the British population . This research was the first study of its kind for Britain, and one of only a few in the world based on samples from the general population, as opposed to university students.
    The sample frame was from households who were formerly members of the British household Panel Survey. One person from each household was selected randomly. The researchers combined the experimental method with both a representative sample and the survey method. This approach made it possible to obtain sound and representative behavioural measures of both trust and trustworthiness. The trust game that was presented to subjects was of the basic "one shot" method. The design of the trust game differed from the standard trust game experiment used by Berg et al 1995 and Glaeser et al 2000 principally by compensating the interviewee before the experiment began.

    Key Findings:
    • About 40 per cent of people were willing to trust a stranger and their trust was rewarded half of the time.
    • Trust increases with age, although the researchers noted that this may be explained by differences in the attitudes of different generations rather than age it self.
    • People whose financial situation was either 'comfortable' or 'difficult' were more likely to trust compared with 'doing alright' or 'just getting by'.
    • Trustworthiness is less likely if a person's financial situation was perceived by them as 'just getting by' or 'difficult', and more likely if they are divorced or separated.
    • There was no evidence that the general willingness to take risks was associated with either trust or trustworthiness.
    • However, the survey indicated that people who express more willingness to take risks in trusting strangers were more likely to trust in the experiment.
    Berg, J., Dickhaut, J. and McCabe, K. (1995) Trust, reciprocity, and social history. Games and Economic Behavior, 10, 122-142.
    Glaeser E.L., Laibson, D.I., Scheinkman, J.A. and Soutter, C.L. (2000) Measuring trust. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 811-846.

    We thank the Economic & Social Research Council for financial support under grant RES-000-22-2241.

    For a Non-Technical Summary please click here


    Measuring People's Trust
    Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A
    (2009), 172(4), 749-769 with John Ermisch, Diego Gambetta, Heather Laurie and S.C. Noah Uhrig

    From Parents to Children? Socio-economic attainment and the role of family background
    joint with Marco Francesconi and Stephen P. Jenkins

    Award/Grant Description:
    This research project looks at the determinants of socio-economic attainment in Germany (especially family background), comparing the results with similar studies in Britain. It analyses the extent to which material disadvantage is transmitted across generations from parents to children and the channels of transmission in both countries.

    For further information click here
    For an English Executive Summary please click here
    For free download of complete report please click here

    We thank the Anglo-German Foundation for financial support.


    Parental Unemployment and Young People's Extreme Right-Wing Party Affinity: evidence from panel data
    Journal of the Royal Statistical Society,Series A (Statistics in Society)
    (2011), 174(3), 737 - 758

    The Effect of Lone Motherhood on the Smoking Behaviour of Young Adults
    Health Economics
    (2010), 19(11), 1377-1384 with Marco Francesconi and Stephen Jenkins

    Childhood Family Structure and Schooling Outcomes: Evidence for Germany
    Journal of Population Economics
    (2010), 23(3), 1201-1231 with Marco Francesconi and Stephen Jenkins