Working Papers

The Effect of Air Pollution on Fertility Outcomes in Europe



This paper studies the effect of ambient air pollution on the number of births in the European Union. We collect air pollution data with web scraping technique and utilize variations in wind, temperature, number of heating, and cooling days as instrumental variables. There are 657 NUTS 3 regions included in the regressions, each with 2 to 6 years of observations between 2015 and 2020. Our results show that an increase in the levels of PM2.5 – PM10 pollution concentration by 1 μg/m3 (appr. 5-10%) would result in a 9% drop in the number of births next year. CO pollution levels also have a significant although smaller effect. If CO pollution concentration increases by 1 mg/m3 (appr. 15%) the number of births next year will fall by about 1%. In the heterogeneity analysis, we find that air pollution is more harmful to fertility in countries with already high pollution levels and lower GDP. This latter suggests that healthcare spending and the general level of living standard could be factors that moderate the negative consequences of ambient air pollution. To our knowledge, this is the first article to study the fertility effects of air pollution using an extended number of countries and years and at the same time including more than one air pollutant. As a result, our results have strong external validity. A remarkable novelty of our study compared to the previous literature is that after taking into account the effect of PM2.5 – PM10 and CO, the rest of the pollutants have much less role in shaping fertility outcomes compared to the findings of the previous literature. This difference is a result of the new method of this study, which examines the pollutants simultaneously instead of examining only one or a few at a time. This result can be important for environmental policies, where the limited resources should target pollution types that have the most detrimental effect on human fertility and health.


The effect of funding liquidity regulation and ESG promotion on market liquidity



Liquidity is a key consideration in financial markets, especially in times of financial crises.  For this reason, regulatory attention to and measures in this field have been on the rise for the past years. Based on practical experience, regulations aiming at ensuring funding liquidity or, in general, reducing certain risky positions have the side effect of reducing market liquidity. To understand this effect, we extend a standard general equilibrium model with transaction costs of trading, endogenous market liquidity, and the modeling of regulation. We prove that funding liquidity regulation or divesting bad ESG assets reduces market liquidity.


Unexpected Inflation and Public Pensions: The Case of Hungary



Public pensions are indexed to prices or wages or to their combinations; therefore, the impact of inflation on the real value of benefits can often be neglected, especially under indexation to prices. At high and accelerating/decelerating inflation like currently prevailing in Hungary, however, this is not the case. (i) With fast inflation of basic necessities, proportional indexation of benefits in progress devalues the lowest benefits, paying for above-the-average consumption share of these goods.  (ii) Annual, lumpy raises in these benefits imply too high  intra-year drop in the real value of benefits. (iii) With accelerating inflation, the declining real value of delayed initial benefits may incite immediate retirement. (iv) With unindexed parameter values (like progressivity bending points), the initial benefits’ structure unintentionally changes.


Heterogeneous wage structure effects: a partial European East-West comparison



We estimate heterogeneous wage structure effects for country-pairs within the EU by the Causal Forest algorithm, then identify groups of workers with the highest and lowest discrepancies in terms of wage differentials. We find that, in the East-West comparison, age is the most consistently differentiating factor. People over 40 are most adversely treated in the East relative to the West, and especially those who have no tertiary education and work in small or medium-sized enterprises.


Where is the pain the most acute? The market segments particularly affected by gender wage discrimination in Hungary



The gender earnings gap can be attributed either to the different distribution of males and females across jobs or to within job biases in favour of men. The latter is frequently called the wage structure effect, and it may be interpreted as wage discrimination against women. In this paper we focus on this second source of the gap. In particular, we study the heterogeneity of the wage structure effect by looking for the main drivers of it. On Hungarian matched employer-employee data we identify those firm-worker profiles that exhibit extremely high gender wage differentials We apply the Causal Forest methodology, borrowed from the conditional average treatment effect (CATE) literature, which has been utilized in several observational studies, recently. Our findings show that those firms that pay relatively high wages tend to discriminate against women most strongly, and especially with respect to women who have spent a longer time in the same firm. But this tendency is moderated by regional effects; where demand side competition is strong the wage structure effect tends to be smaller. These findings are, by and large, in accordance with the view that relative bargaining power is relevant for wage-setting, or, alternatively, firms practice third degree wage discrimination.