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, agrarian decision-making shifted from the collective to individual households, unleashing rapid growth in farm output and unprecedented reductions in poverty. In new data on reform timing in 914 counties, we find an immediate trend break in the fraction of male children following rural land reform. Among second births that followed a firstborn girl, sex ratios increased from 1.1 to 1.3 boys per girl in the four years following reform. Larger increases are found among families with more education and in counties with larger output gains due to reform. Proximately, increased sex selection was achieved in part through prenatal ultrasounds obtained in provincial capitals. The land reform estimate is robust to controlling for the county-level rollout of the O...
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