Ludger Woessmann

Research Fellow

Ifo Institute for Economic Research

Ludger Woessmann is Professor of Economics at the University of Munich and Director of the Ifo Center for the Economics of Education at the Ifo Institute. His main research interests are the determinants of long-run prosperity and of student achievement. He uses microeconometric methods to answer applied, policy-relevant questions of the empirical economics of education, often using international student achievement tests. Special focuses address the importance of education for economic prosperity – individual and societal, historical and modern – and the importance of institutions of the school systems for efficiency and equity. Further research topics cover aspects of economic history, economics of religion, and the Internet. His work was rewarded, among others, with the Gossen Prize of the German Economic Association, the Young Economist Award of the European Economic Association, the EIB Prize of the European Investment Bank, and the Bruce H. Choppin Memorial Award of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Woessmann studied economics at Marburg University, the University of Kent at Canterbury, and the Advanced Studies Program of the Kiel Institute for World Economics, where he subsequently worked. He received his PhD from the University of Kiel. He held the 2010 National Fellowship at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and spent extended research visits at Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is Fellow of the International Academy of Education, Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), and the Academic Advisory Council of the German Federal Ministry of Economics, Chairman of the Research Committee on Economics of Education of the German Economic Association, and coordinator of the European Expert Network on the Economics of Education (EENEE). He is co-editor of the Handbook of the Economics of Education and co-organizer of the annual CESifo Area Conference on the Economics of Education. Among his over 250 academic publications are 75 articles in refereed journals, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic Literature, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Public Economics, and the European Economic Review, as well as several books.

He joined IZA as a Research Affiliate in September 2001 and became a Research Fellow in December 2003.



IZA Discussion Paper No. 11453

The gap in university enrollment by parental education is large and persistent in many countries. In our representative survey, 74 percent of German university graduates, but only 36 percent of those without a university degree favor a university education for their children. The latter are more likely to underestimate returns...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 11283

As skills of labor-market entrants are usually not directly observed by employers, individuals acquire skill signals. To study which signals are valued by employers, we simultaneously and independently randomize a broad range of skill signals on pairs of resumes of fictitious applicants among which we ask a large representative sample...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10948

To better understand the political economy constraints of education policy, we have conducted the annual ifo Education Survey in Germany since 2014. This paper summarizes selected key findings on the German publics' preferences for education policies ranging from early childhood education and schools to the apprenticeship system, universities, and lifelong...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10357

To study whether current spending levels and public knowledge of them contribute to transatlantic differences in policy preferences, we implement parallel survey experiments in Germany and the United States. In both countries, support for increased education spending and teacher salaries falls when respondents receive information about existing levels. Treatment effects...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10298
published in: CESifo Economic Studies, 2017, 63 (3), 255-269

It has been argued that vocational education facilitates the school-to-work transition but reduces later adaptability to changing environments. Using the recent international PIAAC data, we confirm such a trade-off over the life-cycle in a difference-in-differences model that compares employment rates across education type and age. An initial employment advantage of...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10249
published in: Economics Letters, 2017, 153, 15-19

Expanded international data from the PIAAC survey of adult skills allow us to analyze potential sources of the cross-country variation of comparably estimated labor-market returns to skills in a more diverse set of 32 countries. Returns to skills are systematically larger in countries that have grown faster in the recent...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10001
published in: Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2016, 30 (3), 3-31

Students in some countries do far better on international achievement tests than students in other countries. Is this all due to differences in what students bring with them to school – socio-economic background, cultural factors, and the like? Or do school systems make a difference? This essay argues that differences...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9968

The electorates' lack of information about the extent of public spending may cause misalignments between voters' preferences and the size of government. We devise a series of representative survey experiments in Germany that randomly provide treatment groups with information on current spending levels. Results show that such information strongly reduces...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9555
published in: Journal of Human Capital 2017, 11 (4), 447-486

There is limited existing evidence justifying the economic case for state education policy. Using newly-developed measures of the human capital of each state that allow for internal migration and foreign immigration, we estimate growth regressions that incorporate worker skills. We find that educational achievement strongly predicts economic growth across U.S....

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9130
published in: American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2017, 9 (4), 184-224

Although many U.S. state policies presume that human capital is important for state economic development, there is little research linking better education to state incomes. In a complement to international studies of income differences, we investigate the extent to which quality-adjusted measures of human capital can explain within-country income differences....