Alexandra Avdeenko

I work with the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice team at the World Bank.

I am J-PAL invited researcher, Research Affiliate at the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), 

and a Lecturer in Economics at Heidelberg University, 

where I am affiliated to the Chair International and Development Politics and to the Experimental Economics Group.

My work is in the field of Applied Microeconomics, in particular on Development Economics (with a focus on rigorous impact evaluations), Political Economy, and Economics of Crime. Moreover, I am interested in studying research ethics.


My CV can be downloaded HERE. Twitter @avdeenkoalex


I have designed and conducted numerous impact evaluations (incl. training; data collections) among others in Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Montenegro, Sudan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Romania.

I have been working with implementing partners such as UNICEF, UNDP, FAO, ACTED, ILO, NRSP, the World Bank, 3ie, the Green Climate Fund, and governments in the respective countries. 

Some of the work resulted in academic research...


My work has been published in the American Political Science Review, The World Bank Research Observer, 

the Scandinavian Journal of Economics, the European Economic Review, 

the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, and World Development.

Published/ Under Review

With rising global temperatures and more frequent weather extremes, climate change adaptation is a necessary policy response to increase resilience. We study the impact of preparedness interventions that aim at increasing resilience to future natural disasters using a clustered randomized control trial in disaster-prone areas of Pakistan. Relying on evidence from a three-year household panel, we first show that the preparedness strategies were adapted by the villagers, i.a., shelters were strengthened, hygiene practices and the subjective feeling of preparedness improved. In the course of our investigation, one fifth of our study areas were affected by extreme monsoon-related flooding. We measure substantial improvement for food security and health outcomes for households that had previously been assigned to the climate adaptation measures. A cost-effectiveness analysis reveals that implementing climate change adaptation policies can be self-sustaining - an important finding in favor of adaptation strategies to address the consequences of climate change.

The 2019 Economics Nobel Laureates have shed light on how several disciplines can learn from each other to achieve a greater goal. Thanks to their work, economics has begun to follow the methodological and institutional path laid out, amongst others, in medical sciences. The prize creates a momentum in economics to work on areas in which the field still falls short of achievable, higher standards and on more rigor in research transparency, cooperation, and accountability. Yet we also argue that the benefits from the linkage between disciplines are not one-sided. The application and recognition of field experiments as a method in economics have also advanced and enlarged the methodological toolkit on topics such as quasi-experimental method, non-compliance, and mediation analysis. Methods urgently needed to address topics of global concern.

In this paper we investigate behavioral constraints to savings among smallholder farmers in rural Ethiopia. Increasing savings by overcoming such behavioral constraints has been documented to have positive effects on various outcomes such as health, education, and agricultural investments. We causally identify a strong increase in savings to a soft commitment device in the form of a moneybox with a regular savings plan. In our randomized field experiment, we also provide personalized feedback consisting of recommendations to self-set saving goals. These recommendations trigger increases in savings of up to 36 percent. In a detailed analysis of the behavioral characteristics driving these results, we find a strong and robust link between financial confidence and savings behavior. In particular, the savings of underconfident individuals are less than 2/3 of the savings of overconfident individuals — an association stronger than other behavioral traits such as risk-lovingness and present-biasedness. Remarkably, the effect of our personalized feedback is particularly strong for underconfident individuals. We discuss possible underlying mechanisms, rule out a set of alternative behavioral explanations, and address crowding-out behavior into other forms of saving.

The paper investigates long-lasting electoral punishment. Decades of communist socialization and the repressive rule of a single-party have left their left-wing fingerprint on East Germany. In this paper we show that voters act rationally: given negative life circumstances experienced under the rule of the communist party, they display retrospective voting even decades later. Our insight is based on the analysis of 19 years of revealed and stated party preferences. We argue that life at the Border Region to West Germany was particularly hard and find that East German voters who lived close to the inner-German border before the reunification of the two states are 5.9 percentage points less likely to lean toward the successor party to East Germany’s communists. Given that over the years roughly every fifth person has revealed preferences for the communists in the East, this translates to over thirty percent reduction. We confirm the preferences with administrative data: The electoral punishment estimated at the district-level amounts to a reduction of 1.3 percentage points of votes for the party.

In this paper, we analyze the importance of parental socialization on the development of children's far right‐wing preferences and attitudes toward immigration. Using longitudinal data from Germany, our intergenerational estimates suggest that the strongest and most important predictor for young people's right‐wing extremism are their parents' right‐wing extremist attitudes. While intergenerational associations in attitudes toward immigration are equally high for sons and daughters, we find a positive intergenerational transmission of right‐wing extremist party affinity for sons, but not for daughters. Compared to the intergenerational correlation of other party affinities, the high association between fathers' and sons' right‐wing extremist attitudes is particularly striking.

Increasingly the international community attempts to improve local public infrastructure in developing countries by creating more participatory local governance and social capital. We report on a randomized field experiment conducted in 24 communities (16 treated and 8 control) in rural Sudan. We offer a clearer theoretical statement of how these programs might alter the political landscape of the recipient villages. We measure norms using lab-in-the-field techniques and we measure network density with a survey of our 475 lab subjects. We appraise the participatory character of local governance and civic participation with a survey of 576 households. The program did not affect either networks or norms, but civic participation and the participatory nature of local governance increased. Thus we attribute the increase in citizen participation not to social capital growth but to more open local governing institutions.

Working Papers 

Even with access to finance, few micro and small entrepreneurs grow their businesses professionally, possibly due to inefficient management. Using a randomized control trial, we measure the impact of a business training program frequently implemented worldwide. In Indonesia, the program worked with twelve large financial service providers who provided group training and/ or individual counseling to their clients. In line with the existing literature, we find no evidence of changes in business-related outcomes such as profits or sales. While most studies rely on evidence from few hundred entrepreneurs may suffer from lack of precision, a large sample size from a panel of 3,975 entrepreneurs provides us with more confidence in our zero findings. However, we also find that effects vary across partner institutions with one bank achieving significant behavioural changes associated with greater marketing knowledge. Being able to compare the results across a dozen banks and cooperatives, our evaluation provides a new argument in the ongoing “training doesn’t work” debate highlighting the role of partner selection in this and similar interventions.

Whether natural disasters affect risk preferences and behavior are critical empirical questions with implications for public policies and the insurance industry. This paper investigates whether the 2013 floods in Germany affected individual risk preferences, using nationally representative, longitudinal data set. Exploiting the circumstance that this weather phenomenon was unanticipated, we provide robust evidence that flood exposure made affected individuals more risk averse. The effect size corresponds to a 4.85 percent reduction from the pre-treatment mean, varies systematically between men and women, and is detectable up to four years after the shock. We show that this change is mediated by changes in well-being. Moreover, we discuss whether these changes in risk aversion may eventually reduce the costly moral hazard problem in climate change mitigation policies. In particular, we document that the selection on in risk aversion leads to a higher uptake in life insurances in high-risk areas. 

In an increasingly data-driven world, data protection and the requirement of obtaining informed consent rapidly gain relevance. The intention is to protect data holders. Yet, is consent provided by data holders truly informed? In the context of empirical research, the requirement for informed consent can affect external validity and data quality of the evidence generated. Conducting a survey with 7,752 potential participants in rural Pakistan, we find that respondents are insufficiently informed about important aspects related to their consent. Experimentally changing the consent process, we find that showing an animated video has a negative impact on respondent’s understanding, but additionally engaging them in an interactive dialogue about the informational text significantly im- proves understanding. Even though we find effects on levels of understanding, we do not find meaningful changes in consent rates and non-response behavior indicating no adverse effects on the quality of the survey

available upon request:

How early should labor market exposure start? Internships become an essential element of numerous school and university curricula, justified with an anticipated improvement in later occupational choices and job placements. For high school students there is, however, little evidence that short-term impacts are positive. This study evaluates a unique youth labor market pilot initiative. Over 50 companies have been mobilized to host high-school students who were randomly selected for firm visits. During then received on-the-job introductory trainings on work and hiring practices. Eventually, students’ subjective beliefs were updated. Expectations of entry level wages dropped by over 12% as compared to the control group. The companystudent match was random within geographical proximity, allowing to rule out further self-selection into firm choices and estimating sector-specific effects. Students adjusted their occupational preferences, selfperception, and grades in line with the labor market requirements. Role models and parental background play an important role for female students’ occupational preferences, who are also less likely to dropout of school. The study adds to a literature stressing that when information interventions are implemented at an early yet very decisive age, the average impacts on beliefs and educational performance can be considerable.

Selected Reports/ Policy Briefs


American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, European Economic Review, Economic Journal, Public Choice, The Scandinavian Journal of Economics