Dejan Kovač, Ph.D.

Dejan Kovač, Ph.D.
Current Position

since 9/21

Economist in the Department of Structural Change and Productivity

Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association

Research Interests

  • international economics
  • behavioural economics
  • political economy

Dejan Kovač joined the Department of Structural Change and Productivity in September 2021. His research focuses on international economics, behavioural economics, and political economy.

Dejan Kovač received his bachelor's degree from University of Zagreb, his master's degree and his PhD from Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education – Economics Institute in Prag. Prior to joining IWH, he was a researcher at Princeton University.

Your contact

Dejan Kovač, Ph.D.
Dejan Kovač, Ph.D.
Mitglied - Department Structural Change and Productivity
Send Message +49 345 7753-862



O Brother, Where Start Thou? Sibling Spillovers on College and Major Choice in Four Countries

Adam Altmejd Andrés Barrios-Fernández Marin Drlje Joshua Goodman Michael Hurwitz Dejan Kovač Christine Mulhern Christopher Neilson Jonathan Smith

in: Quarterly Journal of Economics, No. 3, 2021


Family and social networks are widely believed to influence important life decisions, but causal identification of those effects is notoriously challenging. Using data from Chile, Croatia, Sweden, and the United States, we study within-family spillovers in college and major choice across a variety of national contexts. Exploiting college-specific admissions thresholds that directly affect older but not younger siblings’ college options, we show that in all four countries a meaningful portion of younger siblings follow their older sibling to the same college or college-major combination. Older siblings are followed regardless of whether their target and counterfactual options have large, small, or even negative differences in quality. Spillover effects disappear, however, if the older sibling drops out of college, suggesting that older siblings’ college experiences matter. That siblings influence important human capital investment decisions across such varied contexts suggests that our findings are not an artifact of particular institutional detail but a more generalizable description of human behavior. Causal links between the postsecondary paths of close peers may partly explain persistent college enrollment inequalities between social groups, and this suggests that interventions to improve college access may have multiplier effects.

read publication


Names and Behavior in a War

Štěpán Jurajda Dejan Kovač

in: Journal of Population Economics, No. 1, 2021


We implement a novel empirical strategy for measuring and studying a strong form of nationalism—the willingness to fight and die in a war for national independence—using name choices corresponding to a previous war leader. Based on data on almost half a million soldiers, we first show that having been given a first name that is synonymous with the leader(s) of the Croatian state during World War II predicts volunteering for service in the 1991–1995 Croatian war of independence and dying during the conflict. Next, we use the universe of Croatian birth certificates and the information about nationalism conveyed by first names to suggests that in ex-Yugoslav Croatia, nationalism rose continuously starting in the 1970s and that its rise was curbed in areas where concentration camps were located during WWII. Our evidence on intergenerational transmission of nationalism is consistent with nationalist fathers purposefully reflecting the trade-off between within-family and society-wide transmission channels of political values. We also link the nationalist values we proxy using first name choices to right-wing voting behavior in 2015, 20 years after the war.

read publication


Information Feedback in Temporal Networks as a Predictor of Market Crashes

Stjepan Begušić Zvonko Kostanjčar Dejan Kovač Boris Podobnik H. Eugene Stanley

in: Complexity, September 2018


In complex systems, statistical dependencies between individual components are often considered one of the key mechanisms which drive the system dynamics observed on a macroscopic level. In this paper, we study cross-sectional time-lagged dependencies in financial markets, quantified by nonparametric measures from information theory, and estimate directed temporal dependency networks in financial markets. We examine the emergence of strongly connected feedback components in the estimated networks, and hypothesize that the existence of information feedback in financial networks induces strong spatiotemporal spillover effects and thus indicates systemic risk. We obtain empirical results by applying our methodology on stock market and real estate data, and demonstrate that the estimated networks exhibit strongly connected components around periods of high volatility in the markets. To further study this phenomenon, we construct a systemic risk indicator based on the proposed approach, and show that it can be used to predict future market distress. Results from both the stock market and real estate data suggest that our approach can be useful in obtaining early-warning signals for crashes in financial markets.

read publication

Working Papers


Exposure to Conflict, Migrations and Long-run Education and Income Inequality: Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Adnan Efendic Dejan Kovač Jacob N. Shapiro

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 11, 2022


We investigate the long-term relationship between conflict-related migration and individual socioeconomic inequality. Looking at the post-conflict environment of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), a former Yugoslav state most heavily impacted by the conflicts of the early 1990s, the paper focuses on differences in educational performance and income between four groups: migrants, internally displaced persons, former external migrants, and those who did not move. The analysis leverages a municipality-representative survey (n≈6,000) that captured self-reported education and income outcomes as well as migration histories. We find that individuals with greater exposure to conflict had systematically worse educational performance and lower earnings two decades after the war. Former external migrants now living in BiH have better educational and economic outcomes than those who did not migrate, but these advantages are smaller for individuals who were forced to move. We recommend that policies intended to address migration-related discrepancies should be targeted on the basis of individual and family experiences caused by conflict.

read publication


The Impact of Delay: Evidence from Formal Out-of-Court Restructuring

Randall K. Filer Dejan Kovač Jacob N. Shapiro Stjepan Srhoj

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2021


Bankruptcy restructuring procedures are used in most legal systems to decide the fate of businesses facing financial hardship. We study how bargaining failures in such procedures impact the economic performance of participating firms in the context of Croatia, which introduced a „pre-bankruptcy settlement“ (PBS) process in the wake of the Great Recession of 2007 - 2009. Local institutions left over from the communist era provide annual financial statements for both sides of more than 180,000 debtor-creditor pairs, enabling us to address selection into failed negotiations by matching a rich set of creditor and debtor characteristics. Failures to settle at the PBS stage due to idiosyncratic bargaining problems, which effectively delays entry into the standard bankruptcy procedure, leads to a lower rate of survival among debtors as well as reduced employment, revenue, and profits. We also track how bargaining failures diffuse through the network of creditors, finding a significant negative effect on small creditors, but not others. Our results highlight the impact of delay and the importance of structuring bankruptcy procedures to rapidly resolve uncertainty about firms‘ future prospects.

read publication
Mitglied der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft LogoTotal-Equality-LogoWeltoffen Logo