Aleksandr Alekseev

Assistant Professor (non-tenure track)

Department of Economics | University of Regensburg


I am an Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Regensburg. My primary research field is behavioral labor economics. I am interested in the interaction between the current trends in the labor market and human psychology. I am currently studying the behavioral effects of automation in the workplace and how they shape workers’ welfare and inequality. Among other topics I find exciting are what is the role of ability and motivation in success in life, and what are the determinants of effort. I am also interested in choice under risk, stochastic choice, and methodology of experimental economics.

I take a comprehensive approach to research that includes behavioral insights, economic modeling, experimental design, and structural econometric methods. My work has been published in such journals as Experimental Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Journal of the Economic Science Association, Annals of Finance, and Mathematical Social Sciences.


  • Behavioral Labor Economics
  • Methodology of Experimental Economics
  • Choice under Risk
  • Stochastic Choice


  • Ph.D. in Economics, 2018

    Georgia State University

  • M.A. in Economics, 2011

    European University at St. Petersburg

  • Specialist (B.A. equivalent) in Economics (Summa Cum Laude), 2009

    St. Petersburg State University

Work Experience


Assistant Professor, non-tenure track (Akademischen Rat auf Zeit)

Department of Economics | University of Regensburg

Sep 2020 – Present Regensburg, Germany

Postdoctoral Fellow

Economic Science Institute | Chapman University

Sep 2018 – Aug 2020 Orange, California

Journal Articles

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Experiments on the Fly

How do exogenous increases in resources to a government affect its expenditure decisions? Economic theory typically predicts that a lump-sum grant will have the same impact on government expenditures as an increase in income. However, empirical studies consistently find that government spending is stimulated far more by grants than by income; that is, grants have a ‘flypaper effect’ because the money ‘sticks where it hits’. We conduct a laboratory experiment that controls for the most important factors that have been suggested in explaining the existence of the flypaper effect. Our experimental design crosses four transfer delivery methods with three voting frameworks. We examine three payoff-equivalent transfer delivery methods, all relative to a fourth baseline treatment with no transfer: an increase in income, a subsidy (repayment) for expenditures on the public good, and a lump-sum grant. Our two alternative voting frameworks are voting over levels of expenditures and voting over changes with information on public good externalities, each relative to a third baseline treatment where voting is over changes from a default (reference) level of expenditures. We find robust evidence of a flypaper effect: both the subsidy and the lump-sum grant increase expenditures more than does an equivalent increase in income. Our results are largely consistent with, and explained by, theoretical models that rely upon behavioral economics.

How to Measure the Average Rate of Change?

This paper contributes to the theory of average rate of change (ARC) measurement. We use an axiomatic approach to generalize the conventional ARC measures (such as the difference quotient and the continuously compounded growth rate) in several directions: to outcome variables with arbitrary connected domains, to not necessarily time-shift invariant dependence on time, to more general (than an interval) time sets, to a path-dependent setting, and to a benchmark-based evaluation. We also revisit and generalize the relationship between the ARC measurement and intertemporal choice models.

Give Me a Challenge or Give Me a Raise

I study the effect of task difficulty on workers’ effort. I find that task difficulty has an inverse-U effect on effort and that this effect is quantitatively large, especially when compared to the effect of conditional monetary rewards. Difficulty acts as a mediator of monetary rewards: conditional rewards are most effective at the intermediate or high levels of difficulty. The inverse-U pattern of effort response to difficulty is inconsistent with many popular models in the literature, including the Expected Utility models with the additively separable cost of effort. I propose an alternative mechanism for the observed behavior based on non-linear probability weighting. I structurally estimate the proposed model and find that it successfully captures the behavioral patterns observed in the data. I discuss the implications of my findings for the design of optimal incentive schemes for workers and for the models of effort provision.

Using Response Times to Measure Ability on a Cognitive Task

I show how using response times as a proxy for effort can address a long-standing issue of how to separate the effect of cognitive ability on performance from the effect of motivation. My method is based on a dynamic stochastic model of optimal effort choice in which ability and motivation are the structural parameters. I show how to estimate these parameters from the data on outcomes and response times in a cognitive task. In a laboratory experiment, I find that performance on a digit-symbol test is a noisy and biased measure of cognitive ability. Ranking subjects by their performance leads to an incorrect ranking by their ability in a substantial number of cases. These results suggest that interpreting performance on a cognitive task as ability may be misleading.

Experimental Methods: When and Why Contextual Instructions Are Important

An important methodological issue in experimental research is the extent to which one should use context-rich or abstract language in the instructions for an experiment. The traditional use of abstract context in experimental economics is commonly viewed as a way to achieve experimental control. However, there are some advantages to using context-framed instructions, such as “employer and worker” instead of “player 1 and player 2.” Meaningful context can enhance understanding of an environment and reduce confusion among participants, particularly when a task requires sophisticated reasoning, and hence may yield responses of better quality. In emotionally-charged research questions, such as pollution or bribes, contextual instructions may affect behavior in the experiment, but this effect may be appropriate as it relates to the research question. Our review of the evidence from the literature indicates that in the great majority of cases meaningful language is either useful or produces no change in behavior. Nevertheless, a few important considerations are worth keeping in mind when using rich context. Finally, we see the choice of context as being an expansion of the experimenter’s toolkit and a factor to consider in experimental design.

Benchmark-Based Evaluation of Portfolio Performance: A Characterization

Benchmarking is a universal practice in portfolio management and is well-studied in the optimal portfolio selection literature. This paper derives axiomatic foundations of the relative return, which underlies a benchmark-based evaluation of portfolio performance. We show that the existence of a benchmark naturally arises from a few basic axioms and is tightly linked to the economic theory. Our method relies on the use of both axiomatic and economic approaches to index number theory. We also analyze the problem of optimal portfolio selection under complete uncertainty about a future price system, where the objective function is the relative return.

A Theory of Average Growth Rate Indices

This paper develops an axiomatic theory of an economic variable average growth rate (average rate of change) measurement. The obtained structures generalize the conventional measures for average rate of growth (such as the difference quotient, and the continuously compounded growth rate) to an arbitrary domain of the underlying variable and comprise various models of growth. These structures can be described with the help of intertemporal choice theory by means of parametric families of time preference relations on the “prize-time” space with a parameter representing the subjective discount rate.

Working Papers

The Power of Incentives

I study an optimal design of monetary incentives in experiments where incentives are a treatment variable. I introduce the Budget …

The Economics of Babysitting a Robot

I study the welfare effect of automation on workers in a setting where technology is complementary but imperfect. Using a modified …

Deciphering the Noise: The Welfare Costs of Noisy Behavior

Theoretical work on stochastic choice mainly focuses on the sources of choice randomness, and less on its economic consequences. We …

Selection in the Lab: A Network Approach

We study the dynamics of the selection problem in economic experiments. We show that adding dynamics significantly complicates the …

Teaching Experience


Advanced Microeconomics

University of Regensburg

Oct 2020 – Feb 2021

The course provides students with a rigorous introduction into the fundamental concepts and models of the microeconomic theory. The course consists of two parts. The first part on the Mathematical Methods of Microeconomics is a part of a two–week math boot camp at the beginning of the semester. This part introduces students to the mathematical methods that are essential for the analysis of microeconomic models. The second part of the course introduces students to the central concepts of game theory, incentives and contract theory, and behavioral economics.



Mathematical Economics (ECON 4930) / Introduction To Mathematics For Economics (ECON 6030)

Georgia State University

Aug 2016 – Dec 2016

This course provides an introduction to mathematical techniques that are frequently used in economic analysis. Topics covered include differential and integral calculus and matrix algebra. Emphasis is placed on the applications of mathematics to topics in economic theory.



Principles of Microeconomics (ECON 2106)

Georgia State University

Jun 2015 – Aug 2015

This course provides a systematic study of human and firm behavior within the context of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods.


Sample Syllabi

Behavioral Economics

This class reviews the major insights of behavioral economics, which is the application of insights from psychology and experimental …

Corporate Finance

The course covers the theory and practice of modern corporate finance. It explains why companies and financial markets behave the way …

Experimental Economics

Experimental economics is a relatively new field in which decision making is examined in a controlled laboratory setting. The data from …

Labor Economics

The course provides a comprehensive overview of the modern issues in labor economics. The topics include minimum wages, discrimination …

Public Finance

The course covers modern issues in the public finance, with the emphasizes on public expenditures. The topics include market failures …

Apps & Code

AER Citations Downloader

A web app that downloads citations for all the articles in a selected issue of the American Economic Review. Source code.

Big Five

A web app that lets you take the Big Five personality test.