Aiko Schmeißer

I am a PhD student at the Berlin School of Economics and the University of Potsdam

My research interests lie in the fields of Labor Economics and Political Economy. I am particularly interested in the formation of beliefs and preferences in labor market contexts. 

In the spring term 2024, I am visiting the Center for Labor and a Just Economy at Harvard University as a research fellow. 

If you would like to know more, you can find my CV here.

Working Papers

Do Unions Shape Political Ideologies at Work? (with Johannes Matzat)

CESifo Working Paper 10301, Latest versionTwitter thread

Awarded 2nd place of the European Public Choice Society Wicksell Prize 2023 

Abstract: Labor unions’ greatest potential for political influence likely arises from their direct connection to millions of individuals at the workplace. There, they may change the ideological positions of both unionizing workers and their non-unionizing management. In this paper, we analyze the workplace-level impact of unionization on workers’ and managers’ political campaign contributions over the 1980-2016 period in the United States. To do so, we link establishment-level union election data with transaction-level campaign contributions to federal and local candidates. In a difference-in-differences design that we validate with regression discontinuity tests and a novel instrumental variables approach, we find that unionization leads to a leftward shift of campaign contributions. Unionization increases the support for Democrats relative to Republicans not only among workers but also among managers, which speaks against an increase in political cleavages between the two groups. We provide evidence that our results are not driven by compositional changes of the workforce and are weaker in states with Right-to-Work laws where unions can invest fewer resources in political activities. 

The Accuracy of Job Seekers' Wage Expectations (with Marco Caliendo, Robert Mahlstedt, and Sophie Wagner)

Latest version

Abstract: Job seekers misperceptions about the labor market can distort their decision-making and increase the risk of long-term unemployment. Our study establishes objective benchmarks for the subjective wage expectations of unemployed workers. This enables us to provide novel insights into the accuracy of job seekers wage expectations. First, especially workers with low objective earnings potential tend to display excessively optimistic beliefs about their future wages and anchor their wage expectations too strongly to their pre-unemployment wages. Second, among long-term unemployed workers, overoptimism remains persistent throughout the unemployment spell. Third, higher extrinsic incentives to search more intensively lead job seekers to hold more optimistic wage expectations, yet this does not translate into higher realized wages for them. Lastly, we document a connection between overoptimistic wage expectations and job seekers tendency to overestimate their reemployment chances. We discuss the role of information frictions and motivated beliefs as potential sources of job seekers optimism and the heterogeneity in their beliefs.

Work in Progress

Job Loss and Political Entry (with Laura Barros)

Racial Peer Effects at Work: Evidence from Worker Deaths in Brazil (with Katharina Fietz)

Pre-PhD Publications