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Aukje Nieuwenhuis wins Jan Brouwer Thesis Award

10 February 2023
PhD candidate Aukje Nieuwenhuis
PhD candidate Aukje Nieuwenhuis

The Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) is proud to announce that Aukje Nieuwenhuis has won the Jan Brouwer Thesis Award in the category “Economics”. Each year the Royal Holland Society for Sciences and Humanities (Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, KHMW) awards the best Master’s Theses in eight categories of Humanities and Social Sciences. Nieuwenhuis received the award for her Master’s Thesis titled “Gender-stereotypical labor market behavior across generations: evidence from conditional second moments.”

Last year, Nieuwenhuis graduated from the Research Master in Economics and Business with the profile Econometrics and Business Analytics. Her thesis was supervised by associate professor Agnieszka Postepska and professor Rob Alessie. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at FEB’s department of Economics, Econometrics and Finance (EEF), also under the supervision of Postepska and Alessie.

Gender-stereotypical behavior and children’s career choices

The main objective of Nieuwenhuis’ Master Thesis is to isolate the causal effect of parental gender-stereotypical behavior on children’s career choices from the effect of selection. There is evidence of positive inter-generational correlation in gender-stereotypical labor market behavior and this is associated with persistent employment gender gaps. Two explanations for the observed inter-generational correlation are selection and causality. A causal relationship implies that holding gender-stereotypical jobs affects parenting in a way that influences children’s choices and leads to more or less gender-stereotypical behavior. A selection effect, on the other hand, captures unobserved transfers from parents to children: parents who express gender-stereotypical behavior have children who display similar behavior, regardless of parental choices.

Using data from Germany, Nieuwenhuis estimates the causal and selection effect. Her results suggest that selection drives the observed positive correlation in gender-stereotypical behavior of parents and daughters, while causality operates in the other direction. This suggests that the factor responsible for the persistent polarization in the labor market is the unobserved transfer that accounts for, among other things, gender norms. The outcome is important for policymakers, as policies aimed at balanced occupational gender compositions may not induce the desired spillovers if gender norms remain unchanged.

Motivational boost

Nieuwenhuis received the award, along with a cash prize of € 2000, at KHMW’s headquarters in the Hodshon House in Haarlem. “It is a huge honour that my master's thesis was awarded with the Jan Brouwer Thesis Award and I am grateful to my supervisors Agnieszka and Rob for their invaluable support. This is a great motivational boost and I am excited to continue working on the topic during my PhD.”

Last modified:17 March 2023 2.06 p.m.

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