Gergely Ujhelyi: Research


Candidate Selection by Parties: Crime and Politics in India, with Arvind Magesan and Andrea Szabó. [paper]

Candidate selection by political parties is driven by considerations other than voter preferences. In India, criminal candidates are chosen because of (i) direct payoffs they provide parties (perhaps in the form of influence or party finances), and (ii) strategic considerations in response to other parties’ candidates. We estimate a structural model of candidate selection and study possible bans on criminal candidates.


 All the President's Money: Market Concentration, Oligarchs and Sanctions in Hybrid Regimes, with Péter Kondor [paper]

We study the economic impacts of clientelism in hybrid regimes in a general equilibrium model. Income extraction by powerful leaders is associated with market concentration and welfare losses. There are cross-industry spillovers, particularly in the presence of public procurement. Sanctions against hybrid regimes work best when they target the process through which income extraction takes place.


National Parks and Economic Development, with Andrea Szabó. [paper] [online appendix] [data appendix]

Newly digitized data on the history of all units in the National Park System reveals that increased conservation leads to increased employment and higher incomes in the local economy.

Partially supersedes Economic Impacts of the US National Park System and its appendix.


J. G. Forand, G. Ujhelyi, and M. Ting (2022): Bureaucrats and Policies in Equilibrium Administrations, Journal of the European Economic Association 21(3), 815-863. [published] [final manuscript]

We present a model of politics with an endogenous bureaucracy. In an Equilibrium Administration, citizen-bureaucrats trade off a desire to work in government with the policy ideology they must implement, and parties trade off ideal policy platforms with the need to motivate bureaucrats. Neutral or partisan bureaucracies emerge endogenously as a function of policy polarization, political competition, public sector wages, and bureaucrats’ public service motivation.


J. G. Forand and G. Ujhelyi (2021): Don't Hatch The Messenger? On the Desirability of Restricting the Political Activity of Bureaucrats, Journal of Theoretical Politics 33(1), 95-139. [published with copyediting errors in the appendix listed here] [final manuscript with correct appendix]

We provide a formal welfare analysis of Hatch Act type regulations that limit bureaucrats’ political activities. These activities can be a valuable form of communication between voters and the government, but they can spoil or crowd out better sources of information, and they have policy costs. In many cases, banning political activities is optimal.


G. Ujhelyi, S. Chatterjee, and A. Szabó (2021): None Of The Above: Protest Voting in the World’s Largest Democracy, Journal of the European Economic Association 19(3):1936-1979. [published] [final manuscript] [online appendix] [replication files]

Since 2013, Indian legislative elections offer a None Of The Above (NOTA) option to voters. We use this policy to study the behavior of protest voters, borrowing techniques from Industrial Organization to estimate a structural model of voter demand for candidates. We find that without NOTA, most protest voters abstain. Others scatter their votes among several small parties and hence have little impact on the election outcome. Read more on the IGC blog.


D. Bostashvili and G. Ujhelyi (2019): Political Budget Cycles and the Civil Service: Evidence from Highway Spending in US States, Journal of Public Economics 175, 17-28. [published] [final manuscript] [online appendix] [replication files]

Civil service rules can create stability in government by weakening politicians’ incentives to time spending decisions to the electoral cycle. In US states, we find evidence of political budget cycles in highway expenditures under political patronage but not under civil service.


A. Szabó and G. Ujhelyi (2017): Choice and Happiness in South Africa, Economics Letters 155, 28-30. [published] [final manuscript] [online appendix]

In hypothetical choice situations, respondents in our South African sample exhibit pronounced happiness-seeking behavior. They also perceive little conflict between own happiness and other relevant determinants of choice such as sense of purpose and family happiness.


A. Szabó and G. Ujhelyi (2015): Reducing Nonpayment for Public Utilities: Experimental Evidence from South Africa, Journal of Development Economics 117, 20-31. [published] [final manuscript] [online appendix] [replication files] [supplementary materials]

Our randomized water education campaign among low-income South African households achieved large reductions in nonpayment. Surprisingly, however, this is not driven by an increase in consumers’ knowledge, showing that education campaigns can affect behavior through channels other than increased information.


G. Ujhelyi (2014): Civil Service Reform, Journal of Public Economics 118, 15-25. [published] [final manuscript] [online appendix]

Insulating bureaucrats from politicians may lead to the insulation of politicians from voters. As a result, society may have to choose between having better politicians or having better bureaucrats - having both may not be possible. This paper provides a formal welfare evaluation of civil service reform. It discusses improved bureaucrat selection, protection from politics, tenure, and other civil service rules.


G. Ujhelyi (2014): Civil Service Rules and Policy Choices: Evidence from US State Governments, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 6(2), 338-380. [published] [replication files]

In US state governments, the introduction of civil service protections caused politicians to shift public spending away from the reformed bureaucracies and towards lower level governments. The reallocation of expenditures led to reduced long-term investment by state governments. Read more on the LSE American Politics and Policy blog.


D. Donchev and G. Ujhelyi (2014): What Do Corruption Indices Measure? Economics & Politics 26(2), 309-331. [published] [final manuscript] [online appendix]

Corruption experience is a weak predictor of reported corruption perceptions, and some of the factors commonly found to reduce corruption, such as economic development, democratic institutions or Protestant traditions, are associated with a lower corruption perception index holding experience constant.


C. Juhn, G. Ujhelyi, and C. Villegas-Sanchez (2014): Men, Women, and Machines: How Trade Impacts Gender Inequality, Journal of Development Economics 106, 179-193. [published] [final manuscript] [online appendix]

Trade liberalization improves the labor market outcomes of women relative to men among blue-collar workers. This works by inducing exporting firms to use technology where these workers have a comparative advantage. Data from Mexico is consistent with our model.


C. Juhn, G. Ujhelyi, and C. Villegas-Sanchez (2013): Trade Liberalization and Gender Inequality, AER Papers & Proceedings, 103(3), 269-273. [published]


E.L. Glaeser and G. Ujhelyi (2010): Regulating Misinformation, Journal of Public Economics 94(3-4), 247-257. [published] [final manuscript]

The case for limiting misleading advertising is less clear-cut in oligopolistic markets, where misinformation can offset underproduction. Combining taxes with other policies such as government advertising may be beneficial when firms undertake quality improving investments that are complementary to misinformation.


G. Ujhelyi (2009): Campaign Finance Regulation with Competing Interest Groups, Journal of Public Economics 93(3-4), 373-391. [published] [final manuscript]

Campaign finance limits may be undesirable even if campaign contributions distort policies. Limits affect the entry of interest groups and can lead to different distortions, and even more lobbying. I show this in a common agency model with budget constrained lobbies and endogenous entry.


P. Fredriksson, E. Neumayer, and G. Ujhelyi (2007): Kyoto Protocol Cooperation: Does Government Corruption Facilitate Environmental Lobbying? Public Choice 133(1-2), 231-251. [published] [final manuscript]

The answer seems to be yes. Environmental lobbies appear to be more successful in getting the Kyoto Protocol ratified in countries that have a higher corruption index.


Political Screening: Theory and Evidence from the Argentine Public Sector, with Ernesto Calvo. [paper] [online appendix]

Politicians can ensure that public sector positions are occupied by their supporters by varying the amount of required political services and associated compensation in otherwise similar positions. The predictions of our model are borne out in the Argentine public sector, showing that political conditions at the time of hiring have long-lasting effects on wages.


Political Institutions, Interest Groups, and the Ratification of International Environmental Agreements, with Per Fredriksson. [paper]


Family Financing and Aggregate Manufacturing Productivity in Ghana, with Andrea Szabó [paper]


Social Learning with Subjective Communication and Self-Selection, with Péter Kondor. [paper]



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