Fabian Kosse is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Applied Microeconomics (University of Bonn) and did his PhD in economics at the Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE). Before, he studied economics and management at the University of Mannheim and the University of Miami. Fabian Kosse is closely affiliated with the Institute on Behavior and Inequality.

His fields of specialization are economics & psychology and applied microeconometrics. He is especially interested in how preferences, personality, and skills are formed, and he particularly focuses on the role of the early social environment. Moreover, he also explores consequences of individual heterogeneities on educational, health, and labor market outcomes. Methodologically, he combines long-term field experiments with microeconometric panel data methods, incentivized measures, and the use of biomarkers.

working papers

This paper explores inequalities in IQ and economic preferences between children from high and low socio-economic status (SES) families. We document that children from high SES families are more intelligent, patient and altruistic, as well as less risk-seeking. To understand the underlying causes and mechanisms, we propose a framework of how parental investments as well as maternal IQ and economic preferences influence a child’s IQ and preferences. Within this framework, we allow SES to influence both the level of parental time and parenting style investments, as well as the productivity of the investment process. Our results indicate that disparities in the level of parental investments hold substantial importance for SES gaps in economic preferences and, to a lesser extent, IQ. In light of the importance of IQ and preferences for behaviors and outcomes, our findings offer an explanation for social immobility.

This study provides insights on the role of early childhood family environment within the process of preference formation. We start by presenting evidence showing that breastfeeding duration is a valid measure of the quality of early childhood environment. In the main analysis, we then investigate how early childhood environment affects the formation of fundamental economic preferences such as time, risk, and social preferences. In a sample of preschool children we find that longer breastfeeding duration is associated with higher levels of patience and altruism as well as lower willingness to take risk. Repeating the analysis on a sample of young adults indicates that the observed pattern is replicable and persists into adulthood. Importantly, in both data sets our findings are robust, when controlling for cognitive ability and parental socio-economic status. We can further rule out that the results are purely driven by nutritional effects of breastfeeding. Altogether, our findings strongly suggest that early childhood environment as measured by breatsfeeding duration systematically and persistently affects preference formation.

This paper studies how individual characteristics, institutions, and their interaction influence moral decisions. We validate a moral paradigm focusing on the willingness to accept harming third parties. Consequences of moral decisions are real. We explore how moral behavior varies with individual characteristics and how these characteristics interact with market institutions compared to situations of individual decision-making. Intelligence, female gender, and the existence of siblings positively influence moral decisions, in individual and in market environments. Yet in markets, most personalities tend to follow overall much lower moral standards. Only fluid intelligence specifically counteracts moral-eroding effects of markets.


This study presents descriptive and causal evidence on the role of social environment for the formation of prosociality. In a frst step, we show that socio-economic status (SES) as well as the intensity of mother-child interaction and mothers' prosocial attitudes are systematically related to elementary school children's prosocialty. In a second step, we present evidence on a randomly-assigned variation of the social environment, providing children with a mentor for the duration of one year. Our data include a two-year follow-up and reveal a significant and persistent increase in prosociality in the treatment relative to the control group. Moreover, enriching the social environment bears the potential to close the observed gap in prosociality between low and high SES children. A mediation analysis of the observed treatment effect suggests that prosociality develops in response to stimuli in the form of prosocial role models and intense social interactions.

This paper investigates physiological responses to perceptions of unfair pay. We use an integrated approach that exploits complementarities between controlled laboratory and representative panel data. In a simple principal–agent experiment, agents produce revenue by working on a tedious task. Principals decide how this revenue is allocated between themselves and their agents. Throughout the experiment we record agents’ heart rate variability, which is an indicator of stress-related impaired cardiac autonomic control and which has been shown to predict coronary heart disease in the long run. Our findings establish a link between unfair payment and heart rate variability. Building on these findings, we further test for potential adverse health effects of unfair pay using observational data from a large representative panel data set. Complementary to our experimental findings we show a strong and significant negative association between unfair pay and health outcomes, in particular cardiovascular health.

Across academic sub-fields such as labor, education, and behavioral economics, the measurement and interpretation of non-cognitive skills varies widely. As a result, it is difficult to compare results on the importance of non-cognitive skills across literatures. Drawing from these literatures, this paper systematically relates various prototypical non-cognitive measures within one data set. Specifically, we estimate and compare several different strategies for measuring non-cognitive skills. For each strategy, we compare their relative effectiveness at predicting educational success and decompose what is being measured into underlying personality traits and economic preferences. We demonstrate that the construction of the non-cognitive factor greatly influences what is actually measured, how it relates to more standard taxonomies and what conclusions are reached about the role of non-cognitive skills in life-outcomes such as educational attainment. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, while sometimes difficult to interpret, factors extracted from self-reported behaviors can have predictive power similar to well established taxonomies, such as the Big Five.


Behavioral Economics

Principles of Economics