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Applied microeconomist with a special interest in the topics of political economy, development and economic history.

Current affiliations: Institute of Economics (KRTK-KTI), Hungarian Research Network

PhD graduate of Central European University, Department of Economics and Business (2019)

Former postdoc at the University of Padova (2019-2023)

About

Submitted

Working papers

Corruption and Extremism

With Tommaso Giommoni (ETH-Zürich), Massimo Morelli (Bocconi) and  Antonio Nicolò (University of Padua)

[R&R at the Journal of Development Economics]

[link to working paper]

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.

Inequality Perception and Preferences Globally and Locally - Correlational Evidence From a Large-Scale Cross - Country Survey

With Carmen Cervone (UniPd), Federica Durante (Milan-Bicocca), Anne Maass (NYUAD), Caterina Suitner (UniPd), Roberta Valtorta (Milan-Bicocca), Michela Vezzoli (Milan-Bicocca)

[R&R at the Journal of Economic Inequality]

Using a large, representative survey involving 31 countries, we establish stylized facts about the attitudes toward cross-country  economic inequality and their correlates. For a topic so important to our globalized 21sz century, this question has been surprisingly understudied. We present a simple and intuitive theoretical framework on thinking about cross-country inequalities. Then we show that people's perceived and desired levels of domestic inequality and their assessment of their own relative socio-economic status are very closely correlated with how they think about cross-country economic differences. The objective socio-economic status of the individual matters less. Though the impact of country level variables is less pronounced than individual characteristics, concern for cross-country economic inequality is stronger in more affluent countries and in those with lower income inequality. Our findings illustrate that attitudes towards international economic inequality are intrinsically linked to within-country characteristics, especially to attitudes towards domestic economic inequality.

Almost submitted :-)

Patronized Agents: Workfare and Clientelism in Hungary

With Győző Gyöngyösi (Utrecht) and Balázs Reizer (KRTK-KTI and Corvinus University)

[link to working paper]

Summary: Defacto @ Telex.hu

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 clientelism, 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. 

Print It Yourself: the Electoral Impact of Grassroots Media

[available upon request]

Can increasing access to independent information sources pierce the authoritarian information space? We study the electoral impact of a grass-roots movement in Hungary, "Nyomtass te is" (NYTI, "Print It Yourself" in English) that distributes printed newsletters to small towns and villages which are the backbone of the support for the ruling party, Fidesz. These newsletters compile politically relevant news stories from independent media outlets that were repressed in the mainstream pro-government media ecosystem. We estimate the impact of newsletter distribution on the outcome of the legislative elections and a government-backed anti-LGBTQ referendum in Hungary in 2022. First we use weekly, settlement level NYTI distribution data which we augmented with an original data set on the on-the-ground effort of politicians during the 2022 campaign for legislative elections, and a rich set of social, economic and political control variables. Next we use geo-referenced delivery routes of the subset of activists who used a mobile phone app to exploit within-settlement geographic variation in the presence of the activists. The results are similar in both analyses: the opposition was expected to receive +2 to +3 extra percentage points of the eligible vote in fully canvassed settlements/precincts compared to settlements/precincts that saw no NYTI presence during the campaign; the effect is identical on the share of invalid votes (the favored outcome by NGOs and the opposition) in the anti-LGBQ referendum. As there is no evidence for a decline in Fidesz support in response to NYTI visits, our interpretation of the results is that the campaign affected voters who would otherwise not have turned out to vote.

with Flóra Drucker (KRTK-KTI, DICE)
 

Publications

Social Mobility and Political Regimes: Intergenerational Mobility in Hungary, 1949-2017

With Pawel Bukowski (LSE), Gregory Clark (UC-Davis), and Rita Pető (KRTK-KTI)

[published at the Journal of Population Economics]

Latest working paper version

Summary: Magyar Nemzet (HUN)

Summary: Portfolio.hu (HUN)

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.

A Twofold-Subjective Measure of Income Inequality

With Carmen Cervone (UniPd), Federica Durante (Milan-Bicocca), Anne Maass (NYUAD), Caterina Suitner (UniPd), Roberta Valtorta (Milan-Bicocca), Michela Vezzoli (Milan-Bicocca)

[published in Social Indicators Research]

Social scientists have been aiming to calculate a “subjective income Gini coefficient”of survey respondents that would describe their beliefs about income inequality in their country. Niehues (Subjective perceptions of inequality and redistributive preferences: an international comparison, Cologne Institute for Economic Research, IWTRENDS Discussion Paper, 2014) derives this estimate from respondents’ beliefs about the relative sizes of different social classes (answers to “shape of society” questions), while Kuhn (The individual perception of wage inequality: a measurement framework and some empirical evidence, Technical report, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), 2015) estimates it using beliefs about the pay structure. We combine their efforts to calculate what we call a twofold subjective Gini coefficient, which incorporates both pieces of information independently from one another. We present the country-level distribution of perceived and desired twofold subjective Gini coefficients using the ISSP Social Inequality V survey (ISSP Research Group in International social survey programme: social inequality v—issp 2019, 2019.). Accounting for both subjective class structure and pay structure yields much lower perceived and desired levels of inequality. At the country level the averages of the twofold subjective Gini coefficients are closer to actual income Gini coefficients than the previous measures. At the individual level the twofold subjective Gini coefficients are better predictors of the individual’s verbal assessment of inequality and their preferences towards redistribution.

Work in progress

Asymmetric Extremism

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")

“Deny Thy Father and Refuse Thy Name” - Nation Building and the Salary Differential of Family Name Changers in Hungary

With Rita Pető (KRTK-KTI)

[link to slides]

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. 

Biased perceptions of electoral fraud? Evidence from Hungary

With Gábor Simonovits (CEU) and Andrea Szabó (Institute for Political Science, HUN-REN)

We study the perception of electoral fraud in the context of the 2022 general elections in Hungary. We rely on a unique survey of
opposition citizen-observers that visited almost 10 thousand election precincts in 3000 settlements. Observers participated in a baseline survey
upon volunteering (before they were assigned a precinct), and a follow-up survey after the elections. Observers could indicate if they were afraid of election fraud (in the baseline survey) and if they encountered election fraud (in the followup survey). We conduct two analyses. First, exploiting the quasi-random assignment of observers to precincts, we validate perceptions of election fraud based on their spatial association with commonly believed predictors of election fraud. Second, comparing observers assigned to the same precinct but with different pre-election beliefs of fraud, we estimate the degree to which perceptions of irregularities are driven by motivated reasoning.

Education & Experience
Skills & Languages

Teaching experience

@ELTE

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

CEU MicroData

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.

CEU Microdata webpage

CEU procurement webpage

Awards & Interests

Scholarships, Fellowships, Awards

  • Visiting fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and South Europe Studies (IOS Regensburg) 2023 

  • 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 )

Volunteer work

  • 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

  • Hungarian: native
     

  • English: fluent
     

  • Spanish: fluent
     

  • Italian: basic (oral), intermediate (writing)

  • Indonesian: basic
     

  • Stata (10 years of experience)
     

  • Python (8 years of experience)
     

  • R (2 years of experience)

Contact
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