Social Mobility and Political Regimes: Intergenerational Mobility in Hungary, 1949-2017
With Pawel Bukowski (LSE), Gregory Clark (UC-Davis), and Rita Pető (KRTK-KTI)
Forthcoming at the Journal of Population Economics
We measure social mobility rates in Hungary 1949-2017, for upper class and underclass families, using surnames to measure social status. In these years there were two very different social regimes. The first was the Hungarian People's Republic, 1949-1989, a Communist regime with an avowed aim of favouring the working class. Then the modern liberal democracy, 1989-2020, a free-market economy. We find four surprising things. First, social mobility rates were low for both upper- and lower-class families 1949-2017, with an underlying intergenerational status correlation of 0.6-0.8. Second, social mobility rates under communism were the same as in the subsequent capitalist regime. Third, the Romani minority throughout both periods showed even lower social mobility rates. And fourth, the descendants of the noble class in Hungary in the eighteenth century were still significantly privileged 1949 and later.
Corruption and Extremism
With Tommaso Giommoni (ETH-Zürich), Massimo Morelli (Bocconi) and Antonio Nicolò (University of Padua)
This paper shows that corruption generates extremism, but almost exclusively on the opposition side. When the majority has greater ability to use corruption to obtain her favorite policy outcome from the minority, then the minority group has an incentive to select a more extreme representative because it is more unlikely that such a type will accept a bribe. On the majority side, on the other hand, the perception of more likely use of the corruption tool does not create any distortion in the choice of political representatives. We provide strong causal evidence for these novel predictions using two different types of corruption signals, in Indonesia and Brazil.
Patronized Agents: Workfare and Clientilism in Hungary
With Győző Gyöngyösi (SAFE Institute and Kiel IfW) and Balázs Reizer (KRTK-KTI and Corvinus University)
We study how clientelistic electoral equilibrium can be sustained if a patron can only effectuate the transaction of private goods for political support through an intermediary whose effort is costly and unobserved. We build a parsimonious model and test its predictions using a large workfare program in Hungary. Our model generates a test to discern clientelism from electoral politics as usual: if there is clientilism, political support is conditional on the threat of losing the private good; in absence of clientelism, it should only be contingent on the amount of the private good delivered to voters. We use unique, high frequency administrative data to show, using spatial regression discontinuity design, that the Hungarian public work program generated political support through clientelism. We also quantify the amount to which Fidesz (the ruling party since 2010) benefits from the public work program in national elections, while mayors (who are the intermediaries) benefit from it during local elections. Difference-in-differences estimates suggests that settlements where the public worker to population ratio was 1 percentage point higher, Fidesz gained 0.2 percentage points more votes on average in national elections, and mayors gained additional 0.37 percentage points. IV estimates of the local average treatment effect for mayors in vulnerable seats are substantially larger (around unity). We supplement these findings with correlational evidence showing that public work is distributed strategically to places where Fidesz needs votes the most. Moreover, mayors of settlements where Fidesz over-performs at the national elections receive more public work quotas before subsequent mayoral elections.
Work in progress
Campaigning on highly divisive, ideological issues can serve as a cheaper alternative to provision of goods and services, so politicians have an economic incentive to cater to extremists. Policies that are more beneficial to extremists in absolute terms than the extent two which moderates dislike them shift the focus of re-election from incumbent performance to ideology, increasing the scope for shirking or rent-seeking. I formalize this hypothesis and test it using Indonesian data. About half of the district governments in Indonesia have been experimenting with divisive and often controversial Sharia-based religious policies since 2000. Using difference-in-differences identification I show that districts that introduce Sharia policies spend less and create less public services: the conservative estimate of the impact is a 10 percent decrease in spending and an 8 percent of a standard deviation decrease in an index of government services. The downstream social effects of cutting service provision and relying on extremists to win elections are that Sharia policies increase various measures of poverty and violence.
(Previous title: "The Public Morals / Public Services Tradeoff : Theory and Evidence from Indonesia")
New draft available soon
“Deny Thy Father and Refuse Thy Name” - Nation Building and the Salary Differential of Family Name Changers in Hungary
With Rita Pető (KRTK-KTI)
Draft available upon request.
The paper studies how the state in pre-World War I Hungary used labor market discrimination based on family names to encourage assimilation, foster nation building and decrease cultural diversity. Using unique, historical administrative data sets from the late 19th and early 20th centuries we show that workers from minority backgrounds who changed foreign surnames to Hungarian sounding ones earned more than those who did not change. We use pooled OLS and a name frequency based instrumental variable and find a median salary premium of 5.8% for name changers. This result shows that family name, a fundamental part of one's identity (which links the individual to both a family and a cultural community) is endogenous to short-run economic incentives. Next, we build a model of self-selection into assimilation, and use it together with a historical policy shock to quantify the impact of incentivized name changing on the cultural composition of early 20th century Hungary.
Introductory Microeconomics, Introductory Econometrics, Introductory Economics
@UMY (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
Mathematics for economists, Econometrics
@CEU (as TA)
Data Analysis, Mathematics for economists
Non-Academic Work experience
I was developing a database on the universe of Hungarian public procurement tenders from 1997 to present day. The primary purpose of the database is academic, as it provides input for ongoing research. The secondary purpose is to have a tractable, searchable, easy-to-use public procurement database for the general public, as the official procurement homepage is not very sympathetic to neither scientific, journalistic or civic purposes.
Scholarships, Fellowships, Awards
Hans Raupach Best Paper Award, 2021 (at IOS Summer Academy 2021 on the Economics of Populism)
CEU Doctoral Research Support Grant, 2017 (to spend the semester at Duke University)
CEU Global Teaching Fellowship, 2016 (to teach in Indonesia)
Review of Economic Studies Student Fellowship 2016 (for JM research)
CERGE-EI – GDN Regional Research Competition 2016 (for JM research)
INET The History Project Research Grant 2015 (for the Name changers project)
CERGE-EI Teaching Fellow AY 2014/2015 (teaching at ELTE)
Erős Gyula Award 2012 (for MA thesis at CEU )
20K22: a grassroots effort to delegate two independent poll watchers to 10.000 polling stations in the 2022 legislative elections in Hungary. As member of the organizing team I crunched data and led the team that designed the delegate allocation algorithm.
Languages and Skills
Italian: basic (oral), intermediate (writing)
Stata (10 years of experience)
Python (8 years of experience)
R (2 years of experience)