Research grants

“Transformation of gender gaps in the Czech educational system and the labor market: Dynamics, causes and consequences,” standard research grant funded by the Czech Science Foundation, 2019-2021.

Principal investigators: Michael L. Smith (CERGE-EI) and Petra Anýžová (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences.

The project aims at mapping and explaining changing levels and patterns of gender inequality in the Czech educational system and labor market, as well as in comparative perspective. Utilizing newly available data, the project investigates at a detailed level the role of family conditions, school conditions, and educational sorting on gender gaps in educational attainment, achievement, as well as labor market outcomes, particularly gender wage gaps. The project engages in quantitative comparative research to examine the role of educational systems, cognitive ability and labor market conditions on gender inequality, and Czech-specific analyses to uncover nuanced family- and school-based conditions underlying gender gaps in education. The project aims to conduct this research in a cost effective way by utilizing already collected survey data, such as the Czech Household Panel Study, OECD PIAAC and follow-up PIAAC surveys in the Czech Republic, OECD PISA surveys, ISPV and EU Labor Force Surveys, and others.

“Dynamics of Change in Czech Society,” Center of Excellence research grant funded by the Czech Science Foundation, 2014-2018.

Principal investigators: Pat Lyons (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences), Tomáš Katrnák (Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Brno) and Michael L. Smith (CERGE-EI)

This project examined the Dynamics of Change in Czech Society using a household panel survey research design. Applying insights from sociology, economics and politics this study examined five themes: Family life, time use and income management; Education and the labour market; Social stratification; Housing choices and inequalities; and Political participation and civil society. Within the framework of a Household Panel Survey, theories and models of many facets of social change were  examined using individuals’ attitudes, preferences and behavior within the context of the household. Time use data and repeated surveys of children provided evidence of how daily life is spent and the process of socialisation where the next generation of citizens is prepared for participation in Czech society. Advanced statistical methods were used to test explanatory models. This project both charted the process of social change and contributed to the training of the next generation of Czech social scientists.

“Neglected Dimensions of Human Capital: The role of intangible assets and attractiveness in the labor and marriage market and lifestyle preferences,” standard research grant funded by the Czech Science Foundation, 2014-2016.

Principal investigators: Marek Loužek (Faculty of Arts, Charles University), Michael L. Smith (Institute for Social and Economic Analyses), and  Jan Řehák (SC&C, spol. s r.o.)

This project contributed to stratification theory and research by examining the role of human capital, personal attractiveness and personality traits on different dimensions of life success (educational and social mobility, labor market outcomes, socio-economic status, marriage market outcomes) and lifestyle choices. Building on recent, innovative research on the impact of human capital, we fielded a follow-up survey of 2,200 respondents interviewed in 2011 in the Czech PIAAC project (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies), which focused on education, measured competencies and labor market outcomes. Using this unique data source, we examined, using structural equation modeling and other regression techniques, the role of those characteristics alongside less studied forms of human capital, such as self-efficacy, social capital and skills, as well as personal attractiveness and personality traits, to arrive at a more complex understanding of the wide range of assets that play a potentially significant role in life success in the Czech Republic.

“Democratic Consciousness in Central and Eastern Europe: Identity and Differences between the V4 countries and Ukraine,” Visegrad+ grant funded by the Visegrad Fund, 2014-2015.

Lead institution: International Centre for Democratic Transition, Budapest. Czech partner: Michael L. Smith (Institute for Social and Economic Analyses)

This was a civic project led by the International Centre for Democratic Transition in Budapest and in cooperation with GFK, Hungary and the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation in Kyiv. The project aimed to assist the process of democratic transformation and European integration in Ukraine by drawing on the experience of the Visegrad countries. In addition to data analysis of past social surveys in these countries, we also implemented a post-presidential election survey in Ukraine in order to analyze attitudinal trends over time in Ukraine, examine the forces behind voter behavior in more detail, and contribute to the profound policy debate on Ukraine taking place across the region.

“Educational Stratification in Taiwan and the Czech Republic: Accessibility of and Heterogeneous Returns to Higher Education,” bilateral research grant funded by the Taiwan Scientific Research Council and the Czech Science Foundation, 2012-2014.

Principal investigtors: Michael L. Smith (Institute for Social and Economic Analyses), Shu-Ling Tsai (Academia Sinica, Taipei), and Daniel Munich (CERGE-EI)

This Czech-Taiwanese bilateral research project aimed at producing scientific papers examining advanced topics in educational stratification and economic returns to higher education. We used recent data collected from social surveys with nationwide representative samples to explore both the family-school link and the school-work link in both Taiwan and the Czech Republic – two countries with quite different educational systems but similar degrees of economic development. Using advanced methods developed by sociologists and economists, particularly Nobel price winner James Heckman, we first carried out comparative analyses of educational stratification in the two countries (educational systems, educational values, educational expansion, educational transition, and accessibility of higher education), and then move on to the analysis of heterogeneity in economic returns to higher education, in which educational selectivity plays a key role. The project also took into account relevant cultural, historical, and institutional contexts in its empirical analyses.

“Reducing the Security Risks of Corruption and Organized Crime in the Czech Republic,” applied research grant funded by the Security Research Program of the Czech Republic, Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic, 2010-2013.

Principal investigator: Michael L. Smith (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences)

This was a unique applied research project in which we focused on the corruprion risks of unregulated lobbying as well as the lack of public access to information about donors to political parties in the Czech Republic. To solve these issues, we helped organize a series of roundtables and published policy recommendations, including a draft law, on the regulation of lobbying in the Czech Republic. In addition, we collected data on donations to political parties and developed software for making that data publicly accessible at the website In addition, we worked with Czech NGOs to develop policy analyses and draft legislation on political party financing, some of which became a cornerstone of Czech law. In addition, we also developed other policy analyses, especially in the area of reform (“depoliticization”) of the state administration.

“Environmental Values, Beliefs and Behavior in the Czech Republic in Historical and Cross-National Perspective,” standard research grant funded by the Czech Science Foundation, 2010-2012.

Principal investigators: Michael L. Smith (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences) and Petr Soukup (Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University)

This project analyzed the development of environmental values and behavior in the Czech Republic in both historical and comparative perspective. The project sought to make a major contribution to environmental sociology by focusing on four research themes. First, by implementing the 2010 ISSP – Environment survey, our research will measure the development of post-materialist values across post- communist countries and compare the determinants of those values with Western democracies. Second, we tested a number of theories in explaining pro-environmental behavior in the Czech Republic and cross-nationally. Third, our research evaluated whether societal beliefs about science, technology and the environment support “ecological modernization” theory, which has become a core assumption in both Czech and EU environmental policy. Lastly, the project examined beliefs about the degree of environmental injustice in Czech society. In addition to the ISSP survey, the project involved carrying out qualitative interviews, panel group discussions, and the secondary analysis of historical data.

“Politics of Local Referendums in Central Europe,” standard research grant funded by the Czech Science Foundation, 2007-2008.

Principal investigator: Michael L. Smith (Institute for Social and Economic Analyses)

In Visegrad states, very few democratic devises for citizen participation in local decision-making have reached broad acceptance. The one major exception to this rule is local referendums: not only do most citizens in Central Europe have the right to initiate referendums that would be binding on the municipal government, but my preliminary research has indicated that citizens are making increasing use of local referendums across the region. This project proposed an extensive research agenda on the nature and development of local referendum politics in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, highlighting the similarities and differences between the countries. The project focused on the identification of variables that contribute to the ability of citizens to successfully carry out referendum campaigns on locally controversial issues, even in the face of local political leaders hostile to direct democracy. In that regard, the project inquired into the factors that prevent, as well as enable, the prospects of direct democracy in post-communist local politics.