Working Papers

The effect of temperature on birth rates in Europe



Using data from 32 European countries for nearly 244 million live births between 1969 and 2021, this paper examines the effects of temperatures on birth rates. The results show that exposure to hot days slightly reduces birth rates five to eight months later, while much stronger negative effects are observed nine to ten months after exposure to hot temperatures. Thereafter, a partial recovery is observed, with slightly increased birth rates. This study also shows that the effect of high-humidity hot days is much stronger than that of hot days with low humidity. Besides, the effect of heatwave days has been found to be more severe than that of hot days that are not preceded by other hot days. This study finds that some adaptation to heat can only be expected in the long run, which suggests that climate change may have a negative impact on the number of live births in the twenty-first century.


The Aftermaths of Lowering the School Leaving Age – Effects on Roma Youth



In 2013, the Hungarian government cut the school leaving age from 18 to 16. We study the impact of this unique reform on the country’s sizeable Roma minority using census data on the universe of 17-year-olds in 2011 and a 10 percent random sample in 2016. School attendance fell by more than 20 percentage points among Roma youth as opposed to less than 6 points with their non-Roma counterparts. Roma’s post-reform drawbacks in school enrolment were predominantly explained by their family background, neighborhood characteristics, and, much less importantly, below-average school performance. Changes in local employment prospects had no remarkable impact on the post-reform ethnic gap. More stringent selection and self-selection by social status and school performance (rather than ethnicity) nevertheless affected the Roma minority disproportionally, with close to 30 percent of their 17-year-old children being out of education, training, and employment three years after the reform.


Contribution of High School Heterogeneity to the Wage Variation of Young Workers



The aim of this paper is to quantify how much of the initial wage differentials of young workers is explained by the secondary school they attended, and to disentangle the (descriptive) channels contributing to these differences. The analysis is based on the HUN-REN CERS Admin3 database, taking advantage of the fact that for some cohorts, young people’s secondary schooling (and students’ school standardized mathematics test scores) and wage outcomes at their early career can be observed simultaneously. Using wage decomposition methods, we separate the channels of firm and occupational selection from the direct returns to further education. Our analysis suggests that about 10 percent of the total wage dispersion of young people aged 18-25 (and already working) is generated at the school level. This also implies that the correlation between the wages of any two students of the same school is 0.1. Another novelty of the paper is that we show that a substantial part of these correlations are due to occupational and workplace selection (e.g. students from a given school type are systematically more likely to go on to well-paid jobs). If we remove these selection effects, the effect of schools on wage dispersion, the correlation between the latent skills of students, shrinks to 4 percent. Finally, we also compare schools of different quality based on different school characteristics (e.g. average test scores), which allows us to further stress the importance of the selection channels.


The Macroeconomics of Managers: Supply, Selection, and Competition



Good management practices are important determinants of firm success. It is unclear, however, to what extent pro-management policies can shape aggregate outcomes. We use data on corporations and their top managers in Hungary during and after its post-communist transition to document a number of salient patterns. First, the number of managers is low under communism when most employment is in large conglomerates. After the transition to capitalism, the number of managers increased sharply. Second, economics and business degrees became more popular with capitalist transition. Third, newly entering managers tended to run smaller firms than incumbent managers. We build a dynamic equilibrium model to explain these facts. In the model, the number and average quality of managers react to schooling and career choice. We use the model to evaluate hypothetical policies aiming to improve aggregate productivity through management education and corporate liberalization. Our results suggest that variations in the supply of good managers are important to understand the success of management interventions.


Poor housing quality and the health of newborns and young children



This study uses linked administrative data on live births, hospital stays, and census records for children born in Hungary between 2006 and 2011 to examine the relationship between poor housing quality and the health of newborns and children aged 1-2 years. We show that poor housing quality, defined as lack of access to basic sanitation and exposure to polluting heating, is not a negligible problem even in a high-income EU country like Hungary. This is particularly the case for disadvantaged children, 20-25% of whom live in extremely poor-quality homes. Next, we provide evidence that poor housing quality is strongly associated with lower health at birth and a higher number of days spent in inpatient care at the age of 1-2 years. These results indicate that lack of access to basic sanitation, hygiene, and non-polluting heating and their health impacts cannot be considered as the exclusive problem for low- and middle-income countries. In high-income countries, there is also a need for public policy programs that identify those affected by poor housing quality and offer them potential solutions to reduce the adverse effects on their health.