Shuang Zhang

Department of Economics
University of Colorado Boulder
UCB 256
Boulder, CO 80302

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2016Willingness to Pay for Clean Air: Evidence from Air Purifier Markets in China
with Koichiro Ito: w22367
We develop a framework to estimate willingness to pay (WTP) for clean air from defensive investment. Applying this framework to product-by-store level scanner data on air purifier sales in China, we provide among the first revealed preference estimates of WTP for clean air in developing countries. A spatial discontinuity in air pollution created by the Huai River heating policy enables us to analyze household responses to long-run exposure to pollution. Our model allows heterogeneity in preference parameters to investigate potential heterogeneity in WTP among households. We show that our estimates provide important policy implications for optimal environmental regulation.
February 2016The Limits of Meritocracy: Screening Bureaucrats Under Imperfect Verifiability
with Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato, Xiao Yu Wang: w21963
Meritocracies that aim to identify high-ability bureaucrats are less effective when performance is imperfectly observed. First, we show meritocratic governments forgo output maximization when they design incentives that screen for ability. This trade-off has empirical implications that reveal whether governments prioritize screening. We show Chinese governments used the One Child Policy to screen mayors, implying a meritocratic objective. Second, we show misreporting limits bureaucratic screening. Using a non-manipulated measure of performance, we show mayors misreported performance metrics, and that promoted mayors were not of higher ability. We thus challenge the notion that meritocratic promotions were effective substitutes for democratic institutions.
June 2013Land Reform and Sex Selection in China
with Douglas Almond, Hongbin Li: w19153
Following the death of Mao in 1976, abandonment of collective farming lifted millions from poverty and heralded sweeping pro-market policies. How did China's excess in male births respond to rural land reform? In newly-available data from over 1,000 counties, a second child following a daughter was 5.5 percent more likely to be a boy after land reform, doubling the prevailing rate of sex selection. Mothers with higher levels of education were substantially more likely to select sons than were less educated mothers. The One Child Policy was implemented over the same time period and is frequently blamed for increased sex ratios during the early 1980s. Our results point to China's watershed economic liberalization as a more likely culprit.
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