Ulf Zölitz is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute on Behavior and Inequality. His research interests are labor, education, and behavioral economics. His current research focuses on how peer effects in higher education affect study success and labor market outcomes. Ulf Zölitz studied economics at the University of Bonn and obtained a PhD in economics from Maastricht University in 2014.

working papers

Feld, J., Salamanca, N. & Zoelitz, U. Students are Almost as Effective as Professors in University Teaching.

Many universities around the world rely on student instructors—current bachelor’s and master’s degree students—for tutorial teaching, yet we know nothing about their effectiveness. In a setting with random assignment of instructors to students, we show that student instructors are almost as effective as senior instructors at improving their students’ short- and longer-run academic achievement and labor market outcomes. We find little heterogeneity across different course types, student characteristics, or instructors’ personal academic quality. Our results suggest that the use of student instructors can serve as an effective tool for universities to reduce their costs with negligible negative effects on students.

Zoelitz, U., & Feld, J. The Effect of Peer Gender on Major Choice and Occupational Segregation.

This paper investigates how the peer composition in university education affects student performance and specialization choices. We exploit random assignment of students to teaching sections. In terms of grades, we find that women benefit from having more female peers, and men benefit from higher achieving male peers. We identify two factors that foster gender segregation in specialization choice: (1) an increase in the proportion of female peers and (2) an increase in achievement of male peers. Women who are exposed to more female peers or higher achieving male peers choose fewer mathematical courses, more female-dominated majors and less male-dominated majors. Men’s academic choices are, overall, less affected. Our results suggest that the increase in female university enrollment over the last decades may have paradoxically contributed to the occupational segregation by gender that persists in the labor market.



Mengel, F., Sauermann, J., & Zölitz, U. (n.d.). Gender Bias in Teaching Evaluations. Journal of the European Economics Association (in press).

This paper provides new evidence on gender bias in teaching evaluations. We exploit a quasi-experimental dataset of 19,952 student evaluations of university faculty in a context where students are randomly allocated to female or male instructors. Despite the fact that neither students' grades nor self-study hours are affected by the instructor's gender, we find that women receive systematically lower teaching evaluations than their male colleagues. This bias is driven by male students' evaluations, is larger for mathematical courses and particularly pronounced for junior women. The gender bias in teaching evaluations we document may have direct as well as indirect effects on the career progression of women by affecting junior women's confidence and through the reallocation of instructor resources away from research and towards teaching.

Marie, O., & Zölitz, U. (2017). "High” Achievers? - Cannabis Access and Academic Performance. Review of Economic Studies, 84(3), 1210-1237.

Feld, J., & Zölitz, U. (2017). Understanding Peer Effects - On the Nature, Estimation and Channels of Peer Effects. Journal of Labour Economis, 35(2), 387-428.

Borghans, L., Goldsteyn, B., & Zölitz, U. (2015). Parental Preferences for Primary School Characteristics. The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 15(1), 85-117.

Borghans, L., Goldsteyn, B., & Zölitz, U. (2015). School Quality and the Development of Cognitive Skills between Age Four and Six. PLos One, 10(7).


Economics and Sociology

Understanding Society

The Economy Game

Labor Economics

Economic Psychology