Research

WORK IN PROGRESS


Flechtner, S. (2020): "Behavioural development economics - progress or fad?", work in progress.


The history of development economics has been interpreted as a succession of fads and magic bullets. This paper enquires if and to what extent behavioural approaches could or should be understood as such a fad. I argue that to be more than a magic bullet that must lead to disappointment after a phase of exaggerated enthusiasm, two conditions must be met. First, behavioural approaches to development must advance our theoretical understanding of development processes. Second, behavioural approaches must improve the quality and effectiveness of policy recommendations. This paper argues the degree to which behavioural development economics (BDE) will be able to respond to these expectations depends on how the field continues to understand itself. BDE is not yet a cohesive field with a consensual self-definition. I portray three different views of BDE: the scarcity view, the non-optimal behaviour view, and the psycho-social-cultural-view. Identifying BDE publications from the Web of Science from 2000-2019, I illustrate to which view publications have belonged, and discuss implications for advances in terms of theoretical understanding of behaviour as well as policy recommendations.  I argue that to be successful, the field should embrace the psycho-social-cultural view more enthusiastically, at the expense of the pure non-optimal behaviour view.

 

Flechtner, S. und Gräbner, C. (2019): The inequality-growth nexus


In this project, we are interested in the inequality-growth nexus. We started with a study of the relationship between per-capita income and income inequality with a heterogeneous panel co-integration approach. We extended previous studies in two ways: first, we compiled a more extensive data set for 61 countries over 26-51 years and considered measures for both pre-tax and post-tax income inequality; second, we take into account country heterogeneity rather than focussing on average panel estimates alone. It turns out that we found a negative group-mean based relationship using pre-tax income inequality, but no such relationship for post-tax income inequality. Moreover, we find estimates on the country level to be heterogeneous in both cases. The results have been published in the Economics Bulletin here. Previous results with a smaller dataset were published the as ICAE Working Paper 91. Data and code are on Github.

Following up on these results, we are now interested in understanding the heterogeneity in country experiences.



Flechtner, S. & Sánchez-Ancochea, D. (2018): "Why is knowledge accumulation so hard? Exploring econometric research on the determinants of social policy in Latin America", under review.


Many areas in applied econometric research within political economy fail to come up with conclusive findings. This is, for example, the case with studies on the determinants of public social spending in Latin America where it is hard to identify clear answers regarding the impact of economic processes and, especially, political institutions. Two reasons explain this lack of knowledge accumulation in this case. First, each study uses different data sources and analytical models. Second, some of the empirical strategies required to solve various econometric problems may affect the results. Our analysis thus questions the role of econometric research as the only method to explore political economy questions and highlights the importance of promoting conversations between complementary methods of both quantitative and qualitative traditions.

This paper is part of a larger ongoing project in which we study determinants of public social spending in Latin America, particularly in the context of the recent commodity boom.



D'Ippoliti, C. & Flechtner, S. (2019): "Fields of study choices and the reproduction of income inequalities", working paper.


In this paper, we study fields of study choices of secondary school graduates in Germany, which are highly consequential for their later income earnings. We analyze how the students' likelihood of entering different fields of study choices changes in accordance with different individual characteristics (students' field-specific abilities, preferences, grades), field characteristics (expected income, share of women in the field), and socio-economic characteristics (socio-economic background incl. migration background, gender). We use data from the German school-leavers panel 2008, featuring data of about 27,000 students in their last year of upper secondary education, and use nested logistic regressions to analyse the fields of study choices students indicate, considering all other options they face at the individual level.

Our results indicate that individual characteristics are more important in determining a students' choice than characteristics of the fields. We confirm the relevance of different explanations put forward in the literature, in particular regarding field-specific skills. On the other hand, the explanatory power of the individual variables and explanations is rather low. The share of choices we can correctly predict increases and decreases very little with the inclusion of variables such as specific skills, preferences or grades. At the same time, controlling for all these factors, a gender dummy remains highly significant and reduces the share of correct prediction by about the same size as specific skills when taken out of the model. This means that the various explanations of gendered field of study choices that are discussed in an interdisciplinary body of research do not offer a full explanation. 



Flechtner, S.  & Heinrich, T. (2017): "Interpreting Sufficiency in fsQCA. A reply to Marques and Salavisa (2017)", working paper.


This short note with Torsten Heinrich came about as a reply to a paper that we replicated. It might be useful for people interested in understanding measures of fit to interpret sufficiency in fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA).

 


Flechtner, S. & Panther, S. (2017): "Global and domestic inequalities and the political economy of the middle-income trap", working paper (R-R).


 


OTHER WRITINGS

"Think Positive, Climb out of Poverty? It’s Just Not So Easy!" , blog post at developingeconomics.org, 9 August 2018.


"Poor Behavior, Good Behavioral Policies? Double Standards for the North and South", blog post at developingeconomics.org, 14 September 2017.


"Towards a Critical Pluralist Research Agenda in Development Economics: Some Bricks from Berlin to Build Upon", blog post at developingeconomics.org (jointly with Jakob Hafele and Theresa Neef), 13 July 2017.

 

PUBLICATIONS


Google scholar profile


Flechtner, S. (2020 forthcoming): "Winning the fight against global poverty one experiment at a time? The Economics Nobel 2019", ORDO – Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft.


Flechtner, S. & Gräbner, C. (2019): "The heterogeneous relationship between income and inequality: a panel co-integration approach", Economics Bulletin 39(4): 2540-2549.


Decker, S., Elsner, W. & Flechtner, S. (2019, eds): Principles and Pluralist Approaches in Teaching Economics: Towards a Transformative Science. Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics. London: Routledge.   


Flechtner, S. (2019): "Entwicklung und Freiheit - Verhaltens-, sozio- und entwicklungsökonomische Perspektiven", in Katharina Hirschbrunn, Ulrich Klüh und Richard Sturn (eds), Jahrbuch Normative und institutionelle Grundfragen der Ökonomik, 17: Kapitalismus und Freiheit. Marburg: Metropolis.


Decker, S., Elsner, W. & Flechtner, S. (2018, eds): Advancing Pluralism in Teaching Economics: International Perspectives on a Textbook Science. Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics. London: Routledge.


Flechtner, S. (2017): "Should aspirations be a matter of policy concern?", Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 18(4): 517-530, doi: 10.1080/19452829.2017.1364224.


Flechtner, S. (2017): "Individuelle Zielsetzungen – ein Ansatzpunkt zur Bekämpfung von Armut und Ungleichheiten?", Der Öffentliche Sektor - The Public Sector 43(2): 49-53.


Flechtner, S. (2017): "Growth Miracle or Endangered Development? Vested Interests, Policy-Making, and Economic Development in the Dominican Republic", Journal of Economic Issues 51(2): 323-331.


Flechtner, S. (2017): "Inequality, (unmet) aspirations and social protest", in H. Hanappi & S. Katsikides (eds), Evolutionary Political Economy in Action. A Cyprus Symposium, Part 1: Political Economy in Action: 109-123. Abingdon/ New York: Routledge.


Flechtner, S. (2017): "Desigualdad y desenvolvimiento económico en la República Dominicana - Un análisis desde la perspectiva de la economía política", in A. Klump and C. Felbeck (eds), Dominicanidad: Perspectivas de un concepto transnacional: 169-203. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.


Flechtner, S. (2016): Aspirations and the persistence of poverty and inequalities. Dissertation, Europa-Universität Flensburg.


Flechtner, S. & Panther, S. (2016): "Economic inequality, political power and political decision-making: the case of the 'middle-income trap'", in S. Fadda & P. Tridico (eds), Varieties of Economic Inequality: 72-94. Abingdon/ New York: Routledge.


Flechtner, S. (2015): Sebastiano Fadda and Pasquale Tridico, (eds.), "The Economic Crisis in Social and Institutional Context - A Review", Turkish Economic Review 2(2): 127-132.


Flechtner, S. (2014): "Aspiration Traps: When Poverty Stifles Hope", World Bank Inequality in Focus, 3(1),  January 2014.


Flechtner, S. (2014): "Book review: Lavinas, L.; Cobo, B.; Waltenberg, F.; Veiga, A.; Méndez, Y.S.: Percepcoes sobre desigualdade e pobreza. O que pensam os brasileiros da política social?" Rio de Janeiro: Centro Internacional Celso Furtado de Políticas para o Desenvolvimento, Revista Econômica, 16(2).


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