From epidemic to pandemic: Effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on high school program choices in Sweden

With Dagmar Müller and Lucas Tilley

Labour Economics, Vol. 82, 2023

We study whether the onset of the COVID-19 crisis affected the program choices of high school applicants in Sweden. Our analysis exploits the fact that the admission process consists of two stages: a preliminary round in which applicants initially rank programs in order of preference and a final round in which they can alter their preliminary rankings. In 2020, the timing of the two rounds happened to provide a unique pre- and post-crisis snapshot of applicants’ field-of-study choices. Using school-level data on applicants’ top-ranked programs for all admission rounds between 2016 and 2020, we implement a difference-in-differences method to identify the immediate effect of the crisis on demand for programs. We find no change in demand for academic programs, but a decline in top-ranked applications to some of the vocational programs. The declines are most pronounced and robust for programs related to the Accommodation and Food Services sector, which was the most adversely affected industry during the crisis. This finding suggests that labor market considerations influence the study choices made by relatively young students. 

Working papers

Do girls choose science when exposed to female science teachers?

I study the importance of the gender composition of teachers in mathematics and science in lower secondary schools on the likelihood of continuing on math-intensive tracks in the next levels of education. I use population wide register data from Sweden and control for family fixed effects to account for sorting into schools. 

IFAU Working Paper 2020:10

Does childcare improve the health of children with unemployed parents? 

With Eva Mörk, Anna Sjögren and Helena Svaleryd

Is childcare a safety net for vulnerable children? This paper investigates the role of childcare for the health outcomes of children whose parents are unemployed. Exploiting time variation in childcare access resulting from a reform requiring Swedish municipalities to provide childcare also for children with unemployed parents, we estimate causal effects on health, as measured by register data on hospitalisations. 

IFAU Working paper 2019:1

Selected work in progress

Peer gender composition and student outcomes in high school

With Lucas Tilley

Fathers' parental leave take-up and gender composition of the workplace

With Eva Österbacka

Workplace Social Relations and Parental Wage Effects

With Eva Österbacka and Lynn Prince Cooke | SOFI, Stockholm university, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden