Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Padova.

An applied microeconomist, with a special interest in the topics of political economy and development.

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



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

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

Revised draft under revision at the Journal of Population Economics

[link to working paper at CEPR]

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)

[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.

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")

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 (CERS-HAS)

[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. 




Introductory Microeconomics, Introductory Econometrics, Introductory Economics

@UMY (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)

Mathematics for economists, Econometrics

@CEU (as TA)

Data Analysis, Mathematics for economists

Non-Academic Work

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


Scholarships, Fellowships, Awards

  • 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 )

Languages and Skills

  • Hungarian: native

  • English: fluent

  • Spanish: fluent

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

  • Indonesian: basic

  • Stata (8 years of experience)

  • Python (6 years of experience)

  • R (1 year of experience)


attila.gaspar [at]

attila.gaspar [at]

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