Publication

Too Hot to Handle: The Effects of High Temperatures during Pregnancy on Adult Welfare Outcomes
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,  2019,  94, 236–253. 
(with Teng Li)
This paper studies the long-term effects of high temperatures during pregnancy on later-life outcomes for Chinese adults. Adults experienced one additional high-temperature day during in utero period, on average, attain 0.02 fewer years of schooling, increase the risk of illiteracy by 0.18%, achieve lower standardized word-test score by 0.48%, and are shorter by 0.02 cm. The impacts are greater in the first and second trimesters. Additionally, we find that income effects represent one important channel to explain the adverse effects of hot weather. Back-of-the-envelope predictions suggest that by the end of the 21st century, a 0.14–0.54 reduction in years of education and a 0.21–0.84 cm reduction in height is likely to result from climate change, ceteris paribus.

Working Papers

This paper studies the short-term effects of nutrition deficiency on labor supply and productivity. Using high-frequency administrative data from a retail chain in Indonesia, we exploit the nutrition shock induced by Ramadan fasting among Muslim salespersons, a non-physically demanding occupation. Based on an event study approach, we find a 30% decrease in productivity for them during the two hours before sunset, when they experience the most energy deficiency. Their productivity recovers immediately after sunset when they can break their fast. They leave work 32 minutes earlier during the hours of greatest energy deficiency. The effects are in line with the nutrition mechanism and are not likely driven by major competing explanations such as demand shocks, fast-breaking events,  dehydration, and sleep deprivation.

Negative Peer Effects Under Competition: Evidence from a University in China

(with Siyu Chen; 2019)

How incentive structures influence peer effects in education is an important question, but one which is heavily understudied. We investigate peer effects under competition, using administrative data from a university in China where students face fierce competition for annual GPA-determined scholarships. Exploiting a random assignment of students to dormitories, we find that living with more high-ability (measured by the College Entrance Exam scores) roommates significantly decreases students’ academic performance during college. More importantly, this negative peer effect increases significantly when the competitive environment becomes more intense along four various dimensions: 1) whether they are both good enough to be potential winners of the scholarship competition; 2) whether they are direct competitors with each other (sharing the same major); 3) how close are their initial ability measurements; 4) relative number of competitors inside and outside a dorm room. We further show that these results could not be explained by the self-esteem mechanism. Our findings highlight that competition changes the nature of peer interaction. They suggest a low-cost way to potentially improve student performance within the world’s largest school system through optimizing dormitory allocation.

Fertility Transition in China: Does the One-Child Policy Matter? 

(with Gordon Liu and Samantha Vortherms; 2014)

This paper provides some evidence of the non-binding nature of the One Child Policy, suggesting a minimal impact of the policy on fertility rates. In October 2015, China announced the shift to a two-child policy, ending thirty-five years of One-Child Policy Implementation in an attempt to increase fertility rates. But the true determinant of fertility reduction is difficult to parse out. If socio-economic development dropped fertility rates close to the one-child quota, policy liberalization will have little impact of total fertility rate. We take advantage of rich census data and variation in policy implementation of the One and a Half Child Policy (OHCP), a loosening of the Strict One Child Policy (SOCP) in 1984, to evaluate how fertility responded to a loosening of policy. Using multiple waves of census data, we estimate a Triple-Differences model with both pre- and post-policy measures, interacted with the first-born child gender to identify the treatment effect of the OHCP against the SOCP as a control group. We find minimal differences in fertility between the two groups, suggesting that most eligible couples voluntarily forwent this extra quota, pointing to the minimal impact the One Child Policy has on fertility rates. Our findings suggest that China's fertility transition, to a large extent, is not attributable to the one-child policy and policy liberalizations are unlikely to lead to a direct increase in fertility.

Works in Progress

Why Her? The Morale and Incentive Effects of the "Unfair" Promotion

(with Zhiwen Wang; 2019)

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