Alena Bičáková


Contact Details:

Politickych veznu 7

111 21 Prague 1

Czech Republic

Phone: + 420 224 005 200

Fax:    + 420 224 005 333




Research Interests


Publications and Working Papers

Work in Progress

Curriculum Vitae



I am a Senior Researcher and a Deputy Director of Graduate Studies at the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences at CERGE-EI in Prague. I joined CERGE-EI in October 2007. Before I was working as a Research Fellow at the Finance and Consumption Programme at the European University Institute (2005-2007). My Ph.D. thesis pursued at the Johns Hopkins University and defended in Fall 2005, focused "On the Distribution of Earnings and Labor Force Status: The Case of France, the UK and the US at the End of the 20th Century". My previous work includes research on the effect of minimum wage on welfare recipiency, the effect of welfare benefits on family structure, the impact of wage flexibility on the distribution of non-employed between unemployment and inactivity and adverse selection and moral hazard in consumer credit market.

My research listed at IDEAS / REPEC:

My ORCID ID: 0000-0003-3801-0725

Scopus Author ID: 47561154300

ResearcherID: H-2912-2014


Research Interests




  • Labor supply and labor force status classification (unemployment versus inactivity)
  • Impact of family leave policies
  • Labor market institutions, wage rigidity, and the trade-off hypothesis
  • Adverse selection and moral hazard in consumer credit markets
  • Self-control and consumer credit counseling
  • Household portfolios inequality and access to credit






  • Labor Economics (PhD course)


Work in Progress




Covid-19, work from home, and labor market trajectories in the long run

(with Kamila Cygan-Rehm and Klara Kaliskova)


The Covid-19 pandemic was a severe shock to employers and employees in the form of substantial restrictions on face-to-face meetings, leading to an unexpected increase in work-from-home (WFH) arrangements. This may have affected the way individuals work and the skills they need to successfully adapt to the new working conditions. In this paper, we use the sharp increase in WFH in Germany in March 2020 as a natural experiment to examine its long-term effects on the labor market trajectories and human capital of affected workers. To this end, we combine survey data on the occupational WFH potential of a given job with individual data on labor market biographies from German social security records. Using event studies and a difference-in-difference design, we compare the career trajectories of individuals who held jobs with high and low WFH potential immediately before the pandemic. We pay particular attention to potential gender differences, as the pandemic disproportionately affected parents, especially women.


Enrolling in Bad Times: College Persistence and Labor Market Outcomes

(with Matias Cortes, Kelly Foley, Jacopo Mazza and Peter McHenry)

Using administrative data covering the universe of student enrollments in public universities in Canada since 2009, we show that individuals who start an undergraduate degree when unemployment is high are less likely to graduate within five years. Compositional changes along observable student characteristics including gender, age at enrollment, and parental income do not account for this result, nor does sorting across universities or fields of study. While a simple model of negative selection into university during downturns can account for the decline in graduation rates, it would imply that post-schooling earnings should be lower among non-completers who enroll during high unemployment periods compared to those who enroll when unemployment is lower. Using a panel of administrative tax data linked to the student enrollment records, we show that higher unemployment rates at enrollment are not associated with lower annual earnings among non-completers. A model that features heterogeneity in the idiosyncratic costs of post-secondary education can rationalize this result.





Bicakova, A. and Kaliskova, K. (2024) “Is longer maternal care always beneficial? The impact of a 4-year paid parental leave,” Journal of Population Economics, vol. 37,


Bicakova, A., Cortes, G.M. and Mazza, J. (2023) ‘Make your own luck: The wage gains from starting college in a bad economy,’ Labour Economics, 84,  102411,

Replication Package


Bicakova, A. and Kaliskova, K. (2022) ‘Career-Breaks and Maternal Employment in CEE Countries,’ book chapter in: Molina, J.A. (eds) Mothers in the Labor Market. Springer.


Hamplova, D. and Bicakova, A. (2022) “Choosing a Major and a Partner: Field of Study and Union Formation Among College-Educated Women in Europe,” European Journal of Population,


Bicakova, A., Cortes, G.M. and Mazza, J. (2021) "Caught in the Cycle: Economic Conditions at Enrolment and Labour Market Outcomes of College Graduates," The Economic Journal, vol. 131(638) 2383-2412.

(pre-proof version, IZA DP and other WP versions below)


Bicakova, A. and Kaliskova, K. (2019) (Un)intended effects of parental leave policies: Evidence from the Czech Republic

Labour Economics, 61,  101747,


Bicakova, A. (2017) “A Note on Selection and Gender Unemployment Gaps”, Journal of Labor Research 38 (4) 428-438.


Bicakova, A. (2016) “Gender Unemployment Gaps: Blame the Family”,  IZA Journal of European Labor Studies (5) 22 1-31.


Bicakova, A. and Kaliskova, K. (2016) “Výskyt a vznik nezaměstnanosti u žen s předškolními dětmi: případ České republiky” (Occurrence and Rise of Unemployment of Women with Pre-School Children: the Case of the Czech Republic), Politická ekonomie, 64(6) 695-712.


Bicakova, A. and Jurajda, S. (2015) “Gender composition of college graduates by field of study and early fertility”,

Review of Economics of the Household, 15 (4) 1323-1342.


Bicakova, A. (2014) “The Trade-off between Unemployment and Wage Inequality Revisited”,

Oxford Economic Papers, 66 (4) 891-915


Bicakova, A., Slacalek, J. and Slavik, M. (2011) “Labor Supply after Transition: Evidence from the Czech Republic,”

Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a úvěr), 61(4) 327-347.


Bicakova, A. (2008) “Unemployment vs. inactivity: Why do we care about one but not the other?” in Schweiger , G. and Sedmak, C., eds. Perspectives on Work: Problems, Insights, Challenges, LIT publisher group, Münster-Hamburg-London.


Bicakova, A. (2007) "Does the Good Matter? Evidence on Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection from Consumer Credit Market,"

Italian Economic Journal (formerly: Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), vol. 66, pp. 29–66. (Issue edited by T. Jappelli  and G. Weber.)


Bicakova, A. (2001) "The Concept of Knowledge in Economics and the New Economics of Science", Věda, technika a společnost (Prague), 10 (23) 69-88.





Reports, Policy Briefs, Media Appearances



The benefits of starting college in a recession, LSE Business Review 10/2021


Nechtěné plody prorodinných politik, IDEA studie 12/2020 (with K. Kalíšková and L. Zapletalová)



The low-skilled in the Czech Republic, IDEA studie 3/2018 (with Klára Kalíšková)


Impact of Selected Labor Market Reforms on Inequality 2015-2016  Country Report


Vrána k vráně sedá aneb důležitost oboru studia při výběru partnera, IDEA studie 7/2017 (with Š. Jurajda and L. Zapletalová)


About Field-of-Study Homogamy paper (with Štěpán Jurajda) on, in Universitas, Týden, Globe24, Eurozprávy


Od mateřství k nezaměstnanosti: Postavení žen s malými dětmi na trhu práce, IDEA studie 10/2015 (with Klára Kalíšková)


Citace článku Gender Unemployment Gaps: Evidence from the New EU Member States.



Working Papers



”COVID-19 and Political Preferences Through Stages of the Pandemic: The Case of the Czech Republic,” 2024. CERGE-EI Working Paper Series wp778. (joint with Štěpán Jurajda) 


“Make Your Own Luck: The Wage Gains from Starting College in a Bad Economy,” 2023. IZA Discussion Papers 16087, Institute for the

Study of Labor (IZA).

(joint with Matias Cortes and Jacopo Mazza)

[earlier version also as WP in CERGE-EI Working Paper Series wp698]


Career-breaks and Maternal Employment in CEE Countries,” 2021. CERGE-EI Working Paper Series wp706.

(joint with Klára Kalíšková)


“Caught in the Cycle: Economic Conditions at Enrollment and Labor Market Outcomes of College Graduates,” 2018.

Working Paper series 18-32, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis (joint with Matias Cortes and Jacopo Mazza)

[also as a WP in CERGE-EI Working Paper Series  No. 622]


“Career Breaks after Childbirth: The Impact of Family Leave Reforms in the Czech Republic”, 2016. IZA Discussion Papers 10149, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) (joint with Klára Kalíšková)

[also as a WP in CERGE-EI Working Paper Series  No. 568]


“Field-of-Study Homogamy”, 2016. IZA Discussion Papers 9844, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) (joint with Štěpán Jurajda)

[also as a WP in CERGE-EI Working Paper Series  No. 561] See the latest version.


“Selection into Labor Force and Gender Unemployment Gaps”, 2014. CERGE-EI Working Paper Series wp513.


“The Quiet Revolution and the Family: Gender Composition of Tertiary Education and Early Fertility Patterns”, 2014. IZA Discussion Paper 7965, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). (joint with Štěpán Jurajda)


“Gender Unemployment Gaps in the EU: Blame the Family”, 2012. CERGE-EI Working Paper Series wp475.


“Who Borrows and Who May Not Repay?”, Working Papers 2010/10, Czech National Bank, Research Department (joint with Zuzana Prelcová and Renata Pašaličová)

[also as a WP in CERGE-EI Working Paper Series wp443]


"Self-control and debt: evidence from data on credit counselling", 2010. Economics Series Working Papers 504, University of Oxford.(joint with Nur Ata Nurcan)


“Gender Unemployment Gaps: Evidence from the New EU Member States”, 2010. CERGE-EI Working Paper Series wp410.


“Mortgage Market Maturity and Homeownership Inequality among Young Households : A Five-Country Perspective”, 2008.

SOEPpapers No. 90/2008, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel. (joint with E. Sierminska).


”Market vs. Institutions: The Trade-off Between Unemployment and Wage Inequality Revisited”, 2006.

Economics Working Papers ECO 2006/31, European University Institute.


"Fiscal Implications of Personal Tax Adjustments in the Czech Republic", 2006.

Working Papers 2006/6, Czech National Bank, Research Department. (joint with Jiří Slačálek and Michal Slavík)


"Unemployment Versus Inactivity: An Analysis of the Earnings and Labor Force Status of Prime Age Men in France, the UK, and the US at the End of the 20th Century", 2005. Luxembourg Income Study Working Paper No. 412.


"The Effects of Higher Minimum Wages on Welfare Recipiency: Another Look", 2003. Joint Center for Poverty Research WP No. 328.

(joint with M.D. Turner)