Here is my Google scholar profile. This pages focuses on current working papers and portrays some work in progress. Publications are listed below.


Faininger, R. & Flechtner, S. (2024): "Heterogeneous migrant wealth gaps in Germany"

This paper investigates the migrant wealth gap in Germany using Recentered Influence Function (RIF) decomposition applied to data from the German Socio-Economic Panel of 2017. As an innovation over previous work, we distinguish migrants from high-income and low- and middle-income countries of origin, as well as the first and second generation of migration, and find considerable differences. All migrant sub-groups experience a negative wealth gap with respect to native households, but wealth disparities are notably wider for households originating from low- and middle-income countries: their raw net wealth at the mean corresponds to 32-36 percent of that of natives, whereas households originating from high-income countries possess 78-80 percent. In terms of factors that statistically explain the wealth gaps, the gap of second-generation migrants from high-income countries is merely due to age differences, suggesting high economic integration. The wealth gaps of first-generation migrants are generally less well understood, and factors such as income or education explain only small parts. Remittances and assets abroad might be important drivers. Second-generation migrants from non-rich countries are not nearly as integrated economically as those from rich countries, and existing income and educational gaps do not statistically explain their considerable wealth gap. Here, remittances, assets abroad and different portfolio choices may be important drivers. Overall, our analysis suggests that policy-makers seeking to reduce the migrant wealth gap should address different groups in different ways.

Flechtner, S., Lich, U. & Pelz, S. (2024): "Women's decision-making power, cooking fuel adoption and appliance ownership: Evidence from Rwanda, Nepal and Honduras" (R-R Energy Research and Social Science)

Universal energy access underpins progress towards achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including gender equality (SDG 5). Yet this link is conditioned by a range of contextual factors that warrant careful consideration in designing measures that guide intervention. In this article, we examine the relationship between women's decision-making power and household energy usage in Honduras, Nepal and Rwanda. Analyzing household and individual data from the World Bank's Multi-Tier Framework Surveys, we develop a measure to proxy women's decision-making power within a household and assess how this correlates with cooking fuel choices and appliance ownership. We find that Honduran and Nepalese households are up to 20 and 30 percentage points more likely to use clean cooking fuels when women in the household also experience high levels of decision-making power, but find no such associations in Rwanda. In terms of household appliances, we observe mixed results. In Honduras and Nepal, we find evidence that households with higher female decision-making power also own a range of household appliance more often, but there is no general pattern across countries as to which appliances this concerns. In Rwanda, households with higher female decision-making power own leisure-related devices less often. These descriptive findings highlight patterns of gender- and context-specific preferences over household energy usage relevant to the measurement of energy access and the development of context-aware energy access improvement interventions.

Flechtner, S. (2023): "Beyond Fads and Magic Bullets: The Promise of Behavioural Approaches in Development Economics"(R-R Journal of Economic Surveys)

The history of development economics has been portrayed as a succession of fads and magic bullets. This study inquires whether behavioural approaches to economic development are destined to become such a fad or whether they have long-lasting contributions to offer. I first show that behavioural development economics is not yet a cohesive field with a consensual definition and propose to distinguish three different views of behavioural development economics: the scarcity view, the non-optimal behaviour view, and the psycho-social-cultural-view. I provide a systematic review of publications in the field of behavioural development economics from 2000-2021, distinguishing these three fields. The non-optimal view has been, by far, the dominant view, and self-control issues stand out as the single-most studied behavioural mechanism. Finally, I argue that the sub-field's ability to advance the understanding of behaviour relevant to the persistence or alleviation of poverty depends crucially on the inclusion of the psycho-social-cultural view. This view has important contributions to offer in terms of (1) the diagnosis of non-rational behaviour, (2) the identification and measurement of behavioural mechanisms and (3) understanding conditions of external validity, and should be embraced more enthusiastically.

Flechtner, S. & Middelanis, M. (2023): "The Role of the Commodity Price Boom in Shaping Public Social Spending: Evidence from Latin America" (R-R World Development)

We study the potential impact of the commodity price boom of 2003 to 2013 on public social spending in Latin America. We estimate structural vector autoregression and local projections for 16 Latin American countries and enquire if we can

attribute increases in public spending on health, education, and social protection to increases in a country's net commodity export prices. Focusing on the impulse responses derived from country-specic estimations, we nd a huge variety in response

patterns. We identify three countries where the commodity price boom led to lasting increases in public social spending (Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico). Some other countries increased their public spending over shorter periods of time of one

or two years and fell back to pre-boom levels thereafter (Brazil, Chile), while yet others did not respond at all (Bolivia, Colombia, Peru). As expected, we cannot relate public social spending with commodity prices in countries without commodity price boom. Among countries with positive responses, there is no clear tendency concerning the function of spending that benets most. We discuss potential explanations behind the heterogeneity of our country-wise results and conclude that the presence of left-wing governments, fiscal rules, natural resource funds and economic diversication provide plausible explanations for single country cases, no general patterns emerge. We conclude that the commodity price boom was neither necessary nor sucient for social policy expansion in Latin America, and factors explaining its eects dier from country to country.

Flechtner, S. and D'Ippoliti, C. (2023): "Individual-level determinants of field of study choices explain only a minor part of horizontal gender segregation" (submitted/ under review)

We review the main economic theories on horizontal gender segregation, with a focus on student-level determinants of field of study choices. The economic literature has first conceptualized field choices as investment in human capital – with explanations based on students’ skills, and the prospective occupations’ expected returns and risks –, then as consumption – based on students’ preferences, and gender-specific social norms. While previous studies have tested these explanations separately, we use a unique dataset of secondary school graduates in Germany to consider all simultaneously. We find that all explanations considered are statistically relevant but substantially only marginally important. Our findings lend support to the recent turn away from individual-level determinants of horizontal segregation, focusing on the roles of schools (e.g. competitiveness of school environment and gender composition), teachers (e.g. teacher gender-matches), and broader communities (e.g availability of role models and peer effects).

Flechtner, S. & Heinrich, T. (2023): "Drivers of youth outsiderness in European labour markets. A comment on Marques and Salavisa (2017) with a note on interpreting sufficiency in fsQCA" (link to previous version) (submitted/ under review)

Marques and Salavisa (2017) use fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to analyze age-based labour market dualization in Southern European, Anglo-Saxon and a few Nordic countries. They argue that segmentation at the expense of young outsiders is driven by several factors in non-linear ways: deindustrialization, labour market coordination, employment protection, and liberalization can lead to youth outsiderness. We are able to replicate their analysis in technical terms, but argue that the analysis and the interpretation of its results are subject to technical misunderstandings. When correcting for these, we must call into question the study's results. To underpin our argument, we provide a hands-on discussion of how two measures of fit in fsQCA - the consistency and PRI scores of the sufficiency solution terms - are calculated. A good understanding of these allows the researcher to understand which cases and configurations drive the results, and thus facilitates technically correct decisions during the analysis and a better understanding of the results. We conjecture that the original paper cannot present conclusive evidence on the hypotheses it sought to test for a lack of sufficient variation in the empirical data sample.

Flechtner, S. (2022): "(Why) do poor households under-save? A review of the behavioural literature"

Under-saving of poor households in developing countries is an intensively studied topic in behavioral development economics. According to a growing body of empirical studies, poor households’ savings are constrained by behavioral factors such as self-control problems. This paper reviews the empirical evidence since 2000. The main finding is that

the behavioral analysis of under-saving has produced little robust evidence concerning the relevance of behavioral explanations for under-saving, and implications for policymaking are still rather unclear. Most studies have been dedicated to the study of self-control problems, but clear and unambiguous evidence of a link between self-control problems and under-saving is scarce. Some studies are in themselves inconclusive; at other times, different studies reach contradictory conclusions that are difficult to reconcile, raising concerns about the generalizability and external validity of single studies’ findings. The article concludes by proposing some steps towards the reconciliation of different findings.


Flechtner, S. and D'Ippoliti, C.: "Can women in STEM close the gender gap?"

Flechtner, S. & Hardeck, I.: "Does business taxation influence wage levels?"

Unterein, D., Flechtner, S., Stephan, M. & Werner, A.: "Introducing the 4-day-week in a medium-size firm: effects on productivity, job satisfaction, and health"



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

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

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



Flechtner, S. (2024): "The reproduction of inequalities through educational aspirations: evidence from teenagers in India", Journal of Development Studies 60(1): 46-66doi: 10.1080/00220388.2023.2273799.

Flechtner, S. & Sánchez-Ancochea, D. (2022): "Why is knowledge accumulation so hard? Exploring econometric research on the determinants of social policy in Latin America", Latin American Research Review 57: 258-277. doi:


Flechtner, S: (2021): "Poverty research and its discontents: Review and Discussion of Issues Raised in Dimensions of Poverty. Measurement, Epistemic Injustices and Social Activism, (2020)", Review of Income and Wealth 67(2), 530-544. doi:


Flechtner, S. (2020): "Winning the fight against global poverty one experiment at a time? The Economics Nobel 2019", ORDO – Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 70(1): 395-406.

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