I am a Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia Economics. My research interests are in urban economics, political economy and development economics.
I am currently on the job market, and will be available for interviews at the 2019 ASSA meetings in Atlanta, GA.
Does urban density facilitate the diffusion of information? In this paper, I exploit plausibly exogenous variation generated by a unique national policy in China that requires all residential buildings to receive sufficient hours of sunshine. The policy creates higher degrees of restriction on density at higher latitudes, where longer shadows require buildings to be further apart. Using data on individual housing projects across China, I show that the cross-latitude variation in regulatory residential Floor Area Ratio can be described quite well by a formula linking structure density to latitude through the solar elevation angle. These differences in building density further induce differences in population density and land prices across latitudes. Exploiting differential topic dynamics on a national petition platform to measure information diffusion, I show that people respond to shifts in government attention with varying speeds across latitudes. Increases in local government reply rate to a topic raises the volume of subsequent posts on the same topic, exhibiting an S-shaped time trajectory consistent with local information diffusion about shifting government priorities. These responses are systematically faster in southern cities, where density is higher. Survey evidence further indicates that otherwise similar individuals are more likely to gossip about public issues in a southern city.
Internet-based platforms are increasingly being used by governments around the world to facilitate public engagement with citizens. However, it remains an open question whether participation through these platforms can actually enable citizens to influence policies. We address this question by studying the patterns and consequences of online participation at a major electronic petition platform in China, a country with the world’s largest Internet-using population. Content analysis of over 900,000 petitions reveals that a substantial share of them concern lower-class issues and are originated from less developed rural and suburban areas. Linking variations in petition volumes to an original dataset of government policy priorities, we further show that online participation led governments to place greater emphasis on social welfare policies and to increase the coverage of a key low-income assistance program. These results underscore the potential of online participation as an important mechanism to improve the quality of governance.
Work in Progress:
Slides. Funded by Columbia University Richard Paul Richman Center Law and Public Policy Research Grant.
We apply natural language processing methods to analyze a comprehensive corpus of 1.4 million legal documents issued by the Chinese government at central and local levels since 1949, and measure their market orientation in a data-driven fashion. We document an active introduction of market-oriented legal infrastructure from the mid-1980s to around 2000, which slowed down in the last fifteen years. These dynamics are present within fine-grained policy domains. We find that the market orientation of policies explains just an extra 2% of provincial variation in GDP per capita growth beyond province and time fixed effects. Variable selection based on richer representations of the text exhibits similarly limited predictive power for provincial growth. Taken together, these findings suggest the importance of studying the informal arrangements between market participants and government officials.
Teaching Fellow at Columbia University
- Perspectives on Economic Studies (PhD course) with Joseph Stiglitz, Spring 2017 & 2018 Review Session Notes
- International Trade with Réka Juhász, Fall 2016
- Introduction to Econometrics with Seyhan Erden, Summer 2016
- Cognitive Mechanisms and Economic Behavior with Michael Woodford, Spring 2015 & 2016
- Political Economy with Alessandra Casella, Fall 2015
- Intermediate Macroeconomics with Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Fall 2014
Section Leader at Tsinghua University
- Principles of Economics, Spring 2013