Thomas Dohmen

Research Director IZA and Professor of Applied Microeconomics at the University of Bonn

Thomas Dohmen is Professor of Applied Microeconomics at the University of Bonn, Research Director at IZA Institute of Labor Economics, and Professor of Education and the Labour Market at the School of Business and Economics of Maastricht University. From December 2007 until December 2012, he was Director of the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA). From January 2003 until November 2007, he was employed as a Research Associate at IZA. He studied economics at Maastricht University, where he received his Master's degree (M.A.) in Economics in December 1998 and his doctoral degree in May 2003. He also holds an MSc in Economics from the University of Warwick (England).

His research interests are in behavioral economics, applied microeconomics as well as personnel and organizational economics. Particular fields of interest include the life-cycle formation of cognitive & non-cognitive skills, the origin, malleability and consequences of risk, time and social preferences, and the psychology of incentives. In his empirical work he uses experimental methods and applied microeconometrics techniques. His articles have appeared in journals such as the American Economic Review, Economic Journal, European Economic Review, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of the European Economic Association, Journal of Public Economics, Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economics and Statistics, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Science.

In his current research projects, he investigates the origin, malleability and behavioral consequences of risk and time preferences, social preferences, and personality traits. It has been documented that individuals differ considerably with respect to these fundamental drivers of human decision-making, and that heterogeneity therein generates differences in choices and outcomes. Knowledge about the sources of individual differences in these motives and about the mechanisms and factors that drive their formation over the life course is limited. Considering the evolvement of personality and preferences at the individual level from cradle to grave, and the long-term cultural evolvement of preferences, his research seeks to fill this gap. Together with a group of researchers from the Universities of Bonn, the Munich and Pittsburg, he has developed a survey module to measure preferences that was implemented in the Gallup World Poll to yield a novel globally representative dataset on risk, time, and social preferences of 80,000 individuals from 76 countries. These data are suited to address a set of open questions. Examples include: Are determinants of individuals’ preferences systematic across the globe? What is the role of the environment on the formation of preferences and personality? Are preferences culturally transmitted? What are the deep determinants of differences in preference endowments between countries, or regions within countries? Can differences in preference endowments explain cross-country heterogeneity in outcomes, such as income, inequality and growth?

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