Professor Uwe Wagschal about Economy, Demography, Culture and Conflict

Professor Uwe Wagschal (University of Freiburg, Germany) visited HSE from 9 to 15 October and delivered three lectures on policy responses to the financial and economic crisis in the OECD countries, the diverse roads for reducing budget deficits in a number of the OECD countries, and the role of culture and demography in the emergence of political conflict.

Professor Uwe Wagschal about Economy, Demography, Culture and Conflict

The events attracted a diverse audience covering both senior researcher and professors at the School of Public Administration, Bachelor's and Masters’ students of the Faculty of Social Sciences, as well as external visitors, including professors from The Presidential Academy of Public Administration (RANEPA) and HSE campus in St. Petersburg.

Lecture “Stress Test for Public Finances – Policy-Responses to the Financial and Economic Crisis in the OECD”

On October 10, the HSE School of Public Administration hosted its monthly discussion series. This month’s event was entitled “Stress Test for Public Finances – Policy-Responses to the Financial and Economic Crisis in the OECD” and was led by Prof. Dr. Uwe Wagschal of the University of Freiburg (Germany). Professor Wagschal's talk focused on the consequences of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus for the public purse and will compare the fiscal packages in 28 OECD-countries aimed at combating an economic downturn following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Decision makers usually acknowledge that the crisis is over, after trillions of taxpayers money had been spent to bailout banks and stimulate economic activity. But the consequences of these actions are still visible today. And its most dramatic effects are still to come. Spending money on bailouts today means government will have to cut staff in government agencies tomorrow.

Open Lecture “Determinants of Political Conflicts: The role of Culture and Demographics”

On October 11, Uwe Wagschal delivered the open lecture “Determinants of Political Conflicts: The role of Culture and Demographics” where he presented empirical insight on the determinants of Political Conflicts. Our world is seemingly a place full of conflict, war and tragedy. Just have a look on Iraq, Afghanistan, or Yemen. The near East and Arab peninsula have turned from a former stable area into a permanent war zone. The same goes for North Africa. Countries like Libya have turned into playing fields for regional war lords and terrorists. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the run, fleeing from their countries – a brain drain leaving these countries with no future. In his Open Lecture Professor Wagschal spotlighted some of the driving forces behind the growing number of conflicts. He demonstrated the role culture and demographics play for the emergence of political conflict.

Masters’ class lecture “Budget Consolidation – Evidence from a Multilevel Perspective”

On October 14, Uwe Wagschal delivered the lecture “Budget Consolidation – Evidence from a Multilevel Perspective”. In his lecture Prof. Wagschal's focused on the success in reducing budget deficits in a number of OECD countries. While researchers have mainly focused on the economic effects of these consolidation efforts, Uwe Wagschal addressed a much urging question for policy makers: How can balanced budgets be achieved? By means of a detailed review of nine budget consolidations, he identified different roads to successful fiscal adjustments, starting with a critical review of the definition of budget consolidation. Uwe Wagschal demonstrated that patterns of budget consolidation follow different worlds of the welfare state. He concluded that institutional reforms constitute very important components of budget consolidations. It turns out that expenditure cuts have been more helpful than revenue increases for budget consolidations. Detailed analysis of the functional expenditures (COFOG-classification) shows that a reduction in social expenditures is a key factor for a successful consolidation. Furthermore, in most countries consolidations occurred immediately after significant changes in the partisan complexion of governments. This “honeymoon” effect allowed the reforms to produce positive effects during the legislative period.The lecture was provided within the Course “Theory and Practice of Public Administration” (Masters’ Program ‘Population and Development’) delivered at the School of Public Administration.

HSE’s School of Public Administration and Professor Wagschal agreed to use this guest researcher stay as a starting point for exploring further areas for potential cooperation in the future.

Dr. Tim Jaekel,
Assistant Professor 

Read also: Monthly Public Administration Discussion to Focus on a Stress Test for Public Finances

Uwe Wagschal is Professor of Comparative Political Science at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He holds a diploma in economics and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Previously, he was also a lecturer at the University of Zurich, Professor of Empirical Political Science and Policy Analysis at the University of Munich (LMU, 2002-2003), and Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Heidelberg (2005-2009), where he also served as chairman of the Department of Political Science. His professional career further includes visiting fellowships at the Universities of Amsterdam, Hull (UK), and Colchester (UK). Uwe Wagschal served as a Senior Political Scientist und Senior Economist for the think tank Avenir Suisse (2001-2003). He is the author of numerous books and articles on public debt and budget consolidation, tax policy, direct democracy, political economy, and statistics for political scientists. Among his recent books is “Culture and Politics”. (together with Jan-Erik Lane).