Gergely Ujhelyi  [gergej ujheji]


Associate Professor

Economics Department

University of Houston


PhD in Economics, Harvard University





Contact information:

223C McElhinney Hall

Economics Department

University of Houston, TX 77204

T.: (713) 743 3815

E.: gujhelyi “at”



Research and teaching fields: Public economics, Political economy, Applied theory, Development economics


Curriculum Vitae          Research          Teaching         Fun facts about my name





G. Ujhelyi (2014): “Civil Service Reform,” Journal of Public Economics 118, 15-25.  [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 the first formal welfare evaluation of civil service reform. It discusses improved bureaucrat selection, protection from politics, tenure, and other civil service rules. I do this in a political agency model with voters, politicians, and bureaucrats.


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

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.  [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.  [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.  [pdf]


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



Working papers


“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.


“Can Information Reduce Nonpayment for Public Utilities? Experimental Evidence from South Africa,” with Andrea Szabó.  [paper]  [online appendix]  [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.


“Choice and Happiness in South Africa,” with Andrea Szabó



Resting papers


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


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