I am Research Director at the Center for Evaluation and Development (C4ED), Research Affiliate at the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), and Affiliate with the Chair of Econometrics, Department of Economics at the University of Mannheim.
I work 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.
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
Research Standards in Empirical Development Economics: What's Well Begun, is Half Done (with M. Frölich), World Development. 2020. DOI
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.
Underconfidence and the Use of Persuasive Messages in the Attainment of Savings Goals (with A. Bohne and M. Frölich), Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 2019. DOI
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.
Long-Term Evidence of Retrospective Voting: A Natural Experiment from the German Democratic Republic. European Economic Review, 103, April 2018. DOI
Intergenerational Correlations of Extreme Right-Wing Party Preferences and Attitudes toward Immigration (with T. Siedler) Scandinavian Journal of Economics, April 2017. DOI
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.
International Interventions to Build Social Capital: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Sudan (with M. Gilligan) American Political Science Review, 2015, 109 (03), 427–449. DOI. awarded: African Politics Conference Group Best Article in African Politics published in 2015 (issued by the American Political Science Association)
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.
Measuring Violent Conflict in Micro-level Surveys: Current Practices and Methodological Challenges (with T. Brück, P. Justino, P. Verwimp, A. Tedesco), The World Bank Research Observer, 2015. Link.
available upon request:
How informed is consent? Evidence from a Field Experiment
How important are Firm Visits for High School Students? Evidence from a Randomized-Control Trial
Rapid COVID-19-Evidence for Rapid Action: Pakistan
Improving Adolescents' Lives in South Asia - Multi-Country Impact Evaluation in Pakistan and India. Endlines ongoing. Call
The Freedom of Others: On Behavioral Responses to Mass-Releases from Prison in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany)
Muslim Adolescents and Authority
Selected Reports/ Policy Briefs
Evidence on Covid-19 Pandemic Control Interventions and their Impacts on Health-Related Outcomes. Background policy brief for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Download here (w. E. Heesemann)
Identifying Conflict and Violence in Micro-Level Surveys (with T. Brück, P. Justino, P. Verwimp), IZA Discussion Paper, 5067, 2010. Background paper to the World Development Report 2011.
American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, European Economic Review, Economic Journal, Public Choice, The Scandinavian Journal of Economics