Mária Lackó started her research work in the Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1973, following her graduation from the Karl Marx University of Economics, Budapest (currently Corvinus University of Budapest). Between 1973 and 1991 she contributed to the work of the research group led by János Kornai, where she dealt with and published on planners’ behavior, the shortage phenomena and investment cycles in centrally planned economies. The latter subject was developed in her Ph.D. thesis as well which was defended at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1988.
More recent themes of her research have been the measurement, causes and consequences of the hidden economy; the effects of tax rates and corruption on the labor market and fiscal developments; and the causes of disparities in mortality rates among countries. In her cross-country empirical investigations Lackó usually attempts to build models, uses econometric methods and puts special emphasis on comparing diverging patterns in developed market economies and transition countries with each other. In association with her winning international research grants Lackó was visiting or guest scholar in research institutes such as the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg (IIASA), the Department of Economics of the Johannes Kepler University, Linz, and the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW).