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Haffert, Lukas

Senior Researcher

University of Zurich, Switzerland



Max Weber alumnus

Department of Political and Social Sciences

Cohort(s): 2014/2015

Ph.D. Institution

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Germany


I am a political economist; my main research interest is in the role of fiscal policy in the process of institutional change in advanced economies. I conducted my PhD research at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne from 2010 until 2014. The title of my PhD thesis is ‘Growing Capacity or Shrinking Ambition? The Political Economcy of Budget Surpluses’. I will defend my thesis in July 2014.
In my dissertation, I analyze countries that have been running budget surpluses for an extended amount of time, often for more than a decade, and ask how these countries have used their surpluses. Were they saved, used for tax cuts or for financing new spending? My work combines a quantitative comparison of these countries with other developed democracies and a document-based case study account of the main mechanisms behind the quantitative results. I argue that surpluses have not signaled growing fiscal capacity but shrinking fiscal ambition and have thus failed to re-increase the fiscal capacity of the state.
Before starting my PhD, I studied economics at the Universities of Muenster and St Gallen. During these years, I have developed quite substantial experience in competing in, judging, organizing, and teaching academic debating in both English and German. In 2012 and 2013, I served as the Chief Adjudicator of the German Universities Debating Championships.
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