Research

Working Papers: 

Host Favoritism and Talent Selection: Evidence from Chinese Science Olympiads (New! with Justin Hong)

R&R at Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization

We study favoritism in the selection of elite scientific talent, by examining the relationship between host institution affiliation and performance in the Chinese Science Olympiad, where a gold medal guarantees a student's admission to top universities. Using hand-collected participant-level data (2003 - 2021), we find that students affiliated with the host province have a significantly higher winning probability, and the effect is more pronounced in host provinces where corruption norms are more prevalent. We further present evidence suggestive of cheating behavior using a portion of the contest vulnerable to information leakage, as well as the centralized post-Olympiad selection outside the control of host provinces. Together, our findings shed light on the crucial role of the organizational structure in designing equitable assessment systems for talent.

Gender Composition and High-Stakes Cognitive Performance: Evidence from a Quasi-Randomized Experiment (New! with Xiang Zhou)

This paper examines whether gender composition in the workplace may influence cognitive performance in a real-world high-stakes setting. We use unique administrative data on students taking the college entrance examination in China, who are randomly assigned to test rooms with varying gender compositions. Our findings reveal that an increased presence of male students in the test room leads to a decreased performance of female students, but it doesn't influence males. This study identifies a previously unexplored passive gender composition effect and offers new perspectives on the debate over single-sex schools and mixed-sex schools.

Voter's Cognitive Bias and Strategic Candidate Entry (2022, updated in 2024)

I study whether voters' cognitive biases affect political candidates' entry decisions. Building off the insight that in down-ballot elections, voters tend to choose the first-listed candidate due to choice fatigue and the primacy effect, I conjecture that potential candidates with late-alphabet surnames, expecting positional disadvantages on an alphabetically ordered ballot, are less likely to run for office. Using within-state variation in ballot order rules and data on 341,156 candidates running for U.S. state legislatures from 1967 to 2022, I find that  alphabetically ordered ballots have an impact on candidate entry, resulting in a 3.68 percentage-point decrease in the representation of late-alphabet candidates (equivalent to a 16.4\% reduction). Moreover, alphabetically ordered ballots may unintentionally impact minority candidate entry, due to these candidates' distinctive distribution of surname initials.

Hurricane Names, Candidate Exposure, and Voter Preferences (2022, with Yuzhao Yang)

We show that, in contrast to classic models of voting and political advertising, mere exposure to (and thus familiarity with) a candidate may lead to greater support. Using data on sub-national elections in Louisiana and names used for Atlantic tropical storms from 1982 to 2020, we find that a down-ballot candidate receives a 12.1-percentage-points higher vote share in elections where a same-name hurricane hit Louisiana before the election. This result holds after considering name-specific popularity and potential behavioral responses from candidates. Our result contributes to our understanding of political campaigning and advertising markets more generally.

The Political Cycle in China's Primary Land Market (MPhil thesis, updated in 2024)

Using parcel-level administrative data on the universe of land transactions from 2004 to 2015, I investigate the political cycle in China's primary land markets, where the local government is the exclusive supplier. I find that land supply decreases by 16\% following the fifth year in office of the city party secretary, the most influential political figure in a city. This reduction aligns with the promotion incentive: the likelihood of promotion drops by 10.1 percentage points (or 21.1\%) for city party secretaries whose term length exceeds five years, the legally established standard term length.

Selected Work in Progress:

Political Responses to Hate Crime: Voter Turnout, Candidacy, and Donation (with Hantao Wu)

Predoctoral Work:

Minimum Wage and Internal Labor Migration: Evidence from China (with Shuang Ma and Xi Wu)

R&R at Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization

The Effect of Political Connections on the Distribution of Firm Performance (with Yanchen Wang)

R&R at China Economic Review