NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Junsen Zhang

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Working Papers

April 2014Co-residence, Life-Cycle Savings and Inter-generational Support in Urban China
with Mark Rosenzweig: w20057
We use unique data characterizing individual savings for twins and non-twins in urban China to examine why the savings rates of the young are elevated relative to the middle-aged, despite rising individual life-cycle incomes. We show that inter-generational co-residence masks the true life-cycle patterns of individual savings in standard Chinese household data sets, which are aggregated at the household level. Moreover, we show that to understand life-cycle savings behavior it is necessary to take into account inter-generational co-residence, an important phenomenon in China and in many developing countries. To test a model that describes joint life-cycle savings and co-residence decisions by two generations, we use a variety of standard twins methods. The estimates provide support for the...
February 2011Why Are Saving Rates so High in China?
with Dennis Tao Yang, Shaojie Zhou: w16771
In this paper, we define “The Chinese Saving Puzzle” as the persistently high national saving rate at 34–53 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the past three decades and a surge in the saving rate by 11 percentage points from 2000–2008. Using data from the Flow of Funds Accounts (FFA) and Urban Household Surveys (UHS) supplemented by the findings from existing studies, we analyze the sources and causes of China’s high and rising saving rates in the government, corporate, and household sectors. Although the causes of China’s high saving are complex, we suggest that the evolving economic, demographic, and policy trends in the internal and external environments of the Chinese economy will likely lead to a decline in national saving in the foreseeable future.
September 2007Long-Term Effects Of The 1959-1961 China Famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong
with Douglas Almond, Lena Edlund, Hongbin Li: w13384
This paper estimates the effects of maternal malnutrition exploiting the 1959-1961 Chinese famine as a natural experiment. In the 1% sample of the 2000 Chinese Census, we find that fetal exposure to acute maternal malnutrition had compromised a range of socioeconomic outcomes, including: literacy, labor market status, wealth and marriage market outcomes. Women married spouses with less education and later, as did men, if at all. In addition, maternal malnutrition reduced the sex ratio (males to females) in two generations -- those prenatally exposed and their children -- presumably through heightened male mortality. This tendency toward female offspring is interpretable in light of the Trivers-Willard (1973) hypothesis, according to which parents in poor condition should skew the offspring...
June 1999Dress for Success — Does Primping Pay?
with Daniel S. Hamermesh, Xin Meng: w7167
A unique survey of Shanghai residents in 1996 that combined labor-market information, appraisals of respondents' beauty, and household expenditures allows us to examine the relative magnitudes of the investment and consumption components of women's spending on beauty-enhancing goods and services. We find that beauty raises women's earnings (and to a lesser extent, men's) adjusted for a wide range of controls. Additional spending on clothing and cosmetics has a generally positive but decreasing marginal impact on a woman's perceived beauty. The relative sizes of these effects demonstrate that such purchases pay back at most 10 percent of each unit of expenditure in the form of higher earnings. Most such spending represents consumption.

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