Working Papers

The Fast and the Studious? Ramadan Observance and Student Performance with Olivier Marie and Marco Musumeci (submitted)

Abstract: This study delves into the repercussions of religious obligations clashing with civic duties, specifically examining the performance of practicing Muslim students when the holy month of Ramadan overlapped with end-of-secondary-school exams in the Netherlands. Leveraging administrative data on exam takers and a machine learning model designed to predict individual fasting probability, our analysis reveals a significant decline in the academic performance and pass rates of those students who adhered to their fasting obligations. Notably, this adverse effect was most pronounced among low achievers and students attending religiously segregated schools. The worse exam performance had long run effects as it increased by 22% the drop out probability of students old enough to do so. Our investigation of potential mechanisms uncovers suggestive evidence that scheduling only in the afternoon, with students able to rest in the morning, can mitigate the impact of Ramadan observance on academic performance.

Older working papers: TI, CEPR.

Columns: ESB (in Dutch); VoxEU

Media coverage (in Dutch): Algemeen Dagblad (13 May 2023); NRC (31 August 2023); NOS Stories (1 September 2023); NRC (14 March 2024)

Short explainer video (in Dutch, with subtitles)


Work in Progress

Minority Salience and Criminal Justice Decisions with Nadine Ketel and Olivier Marie

Abstract: The criminal justice system is multi-staged and features several key agents whose decisions can significantly alter the course of individuals passing through it. These decisions could be influenced by the minority status of the suspects, affecting already under-privileged groups in the population. We document significant disparities by migration background in judicial decisions across all stages in the Dutch criminal justice system, which cannot be fully explained by a rich set of (legally) relevant case characteristics. We next exploit a sudden shock in salience of Moroccan migration background, to causally estimate discrimination against suspects with a Moroccan migration background. Sentencing outcomes for this group significantly worsened after the shock, increasing the length of prison sentence by 79 percent. We find heterogeneity by judge type, showing that judge characteristics can increase salience sensitivity, while experience can fight it. Finally, we show that this discrimination has effects on longer-term economic outcomes, with large reductions in labour income in subsequent years. 

Unlocking Female Potential: How Parttime Work Transformed the (Dutch) Labor Market with Esmée Zwiers

Mental Health (Care) and Crime