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

Competition is widely used to motivate efforts and increase performance. However, in many domains, performance is aided by cooperation between agents in addition to their own efforts. In this case, competition may impose costs on cooperation since the chance of winning is decreasing in the success of peers. Education is a natural setting where peer interactions and help from others enhance individual performance. This paper uses administrative data from a university in China to examine how competition changes peer effects and peer interactions. Exploiting randomly assigned roommates, we find that high-ability students have detrimental effects on their high-ability roommates' academic performance. More importantly, this negative peer effect increases significantly along multiple competition intensity dimensions within a dorm room. The follow-up survey we conduct reveals that this is likely driven by competition discouraging help and interactions among roommates.

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.

What impact did China's One-Child Policy (OCP) have on aggregate fertility? We compare fertility in two provinces with the OCP, Guangdong and Fujian, with demographically similar bordering regions without the OCP, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Using micro-census data, these paired case comparisons show that the OCP did not decrease aggregate fertility, measured as birth likelihood and average number of siblings. Using data from cities in two other provinces, we also show the OCP was likely not binding on fertility levels because relaxing the OCP did not increase fertility rates in pilot cities compared to neighboring cities that did not relax the policy. Our findings emphasize the need to understand the limits of policy to affect national-level fertility rates.

Works in Progress

Optimal Tournament Frequency to Incentivize Efforts with Heterogeneous Workers (with Michele Belot)

GDP or Life? Promotion Incentives of City Mayors and Workplace Accidents (with Hao Yang)