Research Paper

“Diverse Expertise, Peer Effects, and Research Productivity: Does diversity in idea space matter?” (with Qi Wang)

Job Market Paper

We empirically explore whether cognitive diversity between collaborators affects peer effects and productivity in creating knowledge. We introduce a novel index to measure the cognitive distance between two researchers, based on their publication distributions and citation relations across academic journals in which they have publications. Using individual-level panel data from the Web of Science (WoS) databases of academic papers published from 1980 to 2013, we estimate the changes in productivity of the coauthors of active and eminent life scientists who passed away unexpectedly and prematurely and examine whether the impact on coauthors differs in terms of the cognitive distance. The results show that coauthors with close cognitive distance from the deceased scientist are more likely to experience a lasting decrease in research productivity for both quantity and quality measures, while cognitively distant coauthors are only negatively affected in output quantity. The findings suggest that both knowledge spillovers and skill complementarity play a role in collaborations. The loss of an irreplaceable source of ideas seems to have a more adverse impact on a scientist’s productivity than the potentially imperfect skill substitution that follows such a loss.

“Public Health Insurance and the Labor Market: Evidence from China’s Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance”

Award: Best Student Paper — 38th Nordic Health Economists Study Group meeting, Helsinki 2017

Current version (coming soon)

This paper provides empirical evidence on labor market effects of public health insurance in China. In 2007, China launched a national public health insurance program, the Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI), targeting residents in urban areas, who were not insured by the pre-existing employment-based health insurance. Using panel data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2011, I employ an instrumental variable strategy that exploits the time variation of the URBMI implementation at the city level to overcome self-selection issues. I find that the URBMI does not have a significant average causal effect on labor market outcomes for the sample as a whole. However, URBMI has encouraged employment in the informal sector among women and the lower educated, while reduced informal employment among people with more schooling. After the program was implemented, the unemployed has an increased probability of becoming fixed-term contract workers, and the formal sector employees are more likely to become self-employed than before, indicating a reduction in job lock. The results suggest that the public health insurance program reduces healthcare expenditure risks associated with informal sector employment and thus encourages labor supply from marginal workers. It may decrease labor costs for small employers, hence to some extent increase labor demand from them.

“Higher Education and Women’s Empowerment: Evidence from China’s Higher Education Expansion”

Current version (coming soon)

This paper studies the impact of higher education expansion on women’s empowerment. Higher education may potentially foster women’s empowerment by reducing gender stereotyping and by promoting women in the labor market to achieve self-realization through careers. Taking advantage of China’s higher education expansion in the late 1990s for empirical analysis, I estimate an intention-to-treat effect using individual level data from China General Social Survey 2010, 2012, and 2013. The empirical results show that the reform has significantly increased higher education attainment for both men and women. However, it did not change gender norms. The results may be attributed to the fact that there is little improvement of women’s disadvantaged status in the labor market after the expansion. This suggests that it is critical to promote gender equality in the labor market to foster female empowerment.

Work in Progress Projects

“The Long-run Career Effect of Early Research Experience” (with Qi Wang and Carter Walter Bloch)

We exploit evidence from Danish scientists to explore whether doing research abroad during a researcher’s postdoc phase would affect his or her long-run career accomplishments.

“The Effect of Social Media on Science” (with Qi Wang)

We explore whether the use of social media like Twitter has a positive effect on promoting scientific output and increasing research productivity in academia.

“Planning for Bicycle Tourism: Estimating the Economic Effects of Bicycle Tourism in Two Swedish Regions” (with Tobias Heldt)

We evaluate the economic contribution of bicycle tourism in two specific destinations in Sweden and to estimate the willingness to pay for changes in key variables of importance for the tourist’s choice of bicycle destination.