This paper provides empirical evidence on the labor market effects of public health insurance using evidence from China. In 2007, China launched a national public health insurance program, Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI), targeting residents in urban areas who were not insured by the pre-existing employment-based health insurance system. 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 in URBMI implementation at the city level to overcome self-selection issues. I find that URBMI did not have a significant average causal effect on employment for the sample as a whole. However, after the program was implemented, job lock declined, and job flexibility increased, especially among women, the less educated, and individuals with good health status. The results also suggest increased labor supply for unhealthy workers, indicating a direct health improvement effect.
“Does Higher Education Empower Women? Evidence from China’s Higher Education Expansion”
This paper studies the impact of higher education on women’s empowerment, taking advantage of China’s higher education expansion in the late 1990s. Higher education may potentially foster female empowerment by increasing women’s educational attainment, reducing gender stereotyping, and promoting women in the labor market. I estimate the impacts of a higher education expansion on educational attainment, attitudes on gender norms, labor market outcomes, and marriage market returns, using individual-level data from the China General Social Survey 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015. The empirical results show that the reform has significantly increased higher educational attainment for women. However, gender norms becomes more traditional especially for women. The results may be attributed to the fact that there is no improvement in women’s disadvantaged status in the labor market and the household after the expansion. The findings suggest that it is critical to promote gender equality in the labor market and help women overcome the dilemma between career and family to foster female empowerment.
“Diverse Expertise, Peer Effects, and Research Productivity: Does diversity in idea space matter?” (with Qi Wang)
We empirically explore whether cognitive distance 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 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 to examine whether the impacts on coauthors differ with the cognitive distance. The results show that coauthors with a close cognitive distance to 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 upon such a loss.
Work in Progress Projects
“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.
“Insider Bias in Academic Citation and Publication?” (with Hanming Fang)