Lukas Hensel

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Development Economics at the University of Oxford.

Email: lukas.hensel (at)

I am a postdoctoral research fellow in Development Economics at the Mind and Behavior Research Group at the Centre for the Study of African Economies and the Blavatnik School of Government. I am also a non-stipendiary Junior Research Fellow at Mansfield College.

I work on Development Economics, Labor Economics and Political Economy.

You can find my CV here: CV


Christian, C., Hensel, L., & Roth, C. (2019). Income Shocks and Suicides: Causal Evidence From Indonesia. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 101(5), 905–920.

We examine how income shocks affect the suicide rate in Indonesia. We use a difference-in-differences approach, exploiting the cash transfer's nationwide roll-out, and corroborate the findings using a randomized experiment embedded in the program roll-out. Our estimates from the nationwide roll-out show that the cash transfers reduce the yearly suicide rate by 0.36 per 100,000 people, corresponding to an 18 percent decrease. Moreover, a different type of income shock, variability in agricultural productivity, also affects the suicide rate. The cash transfer program reduces the causal impact of the agricultural productivity shocks, suggesting an important role for policy interventions. Finally, we provide evidence for a psychological mechanism by showing that agricultural productivity shocks affect depression.

Working papers:

Does Party Competition Affect Political Engagement? (with Anselm Hager, Johannes Hermle, and Christopher Roth)

[Conditional Accept: Journal of Politics]

This paper studies the decision of party supporters to join political campaigns. We present a framework that incorporates supporters' instrumental and expressive motives and illustrates that party competition can either increase or decrease party activism. To distinguish between these competing predictions, we implemented a field experiment with a European party during a national election. In a seemingly unrelated party survey, we randomly assigned 1,417 party supporters to true information that the canvassing activity of the main competitor party was exceptionally high. Using unobtrusive, real-time data on party supporters' canvassing behavior, we find that treated respondents are 30 percent less likely to go canvassing. To investigate the causal mechanism, we leverage additional survey evidence collected two months after the campaign. Consistent with affective accounts of political activism, we show that increased competition lowered party supporters' political self-efficacy, which plausibly led them to remain inactive.

IZA Discussion Paper No. 12759

European Economic Association Conference 2018, Young Economist Award

How does a citizen’s decision to participate in political activism depend on the participation of others? We examine this core question of collective action in a natural field experiment in collaboration with a major European party during a recent national election. In a seemingly unrelated party survey, we randomly assign canvassers to true information about the canvassing intentions of their peers. Using survey evidence and behavioral data from the party’s smartphone canvassing application, we find that treated canvassers significantly reduce both their canvassing intentions and behavior when learning that their peers participate more in canvassing than previously believed. These treatment effects are particularly large for supporters who have weaker social ties to the party, and for supporters with higher career concerns within the party. The evidence implies that effort choices of political activists are, on average, strategic substitutes. However, social ties to other activists can act as a force for strategic complementarity.

CESifo Working Paper No. 7790

[Under Review]

We study participation in right-wing rallies and counterrallies in Germany to examine strategic interactions in political movements. In the leadup to two right-wing rallies, we exogenously shift potential participants’ beliefs about the turnout at the right-wing rally and left-wing counterrally, and then measure activists’ intentions to protest. For right-wing activists, own participation and participation of peers exhibit strategic substitutability. For left-wing activists, own participation and participation of peers are strategic complements. Both groups do not, however, react to changes in competitor effort. Our evidence highlights substantial heterogeneity in the nature of strategic interactions in political movements.

Selected work in progress:

Formal Hiring Practices, Firm Growth, and Inclusive Labour Markets (with Tegsay Gebrekidan Tekleselassie and Marc Witte)

[Fieldwork completed]

Increasing Women’s Political Participation in Kyrgysztan

(with Damir Esenaliev​, Anselm Hager, Elnura Kazakbaeva)

[Grant awarded - Part of EGAP Metaketa V: Women's Action Committees and Local Services]

Boosting Worker Productivity in a New Industrial Park in Ethiopia (with Girum Abebe, Stefano Caria, and Stefan Dercon)

[Fieldwork ongoing]