Shuang Zhang

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

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Institutional Affiliation: University of Colorado at Boulder

NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2020Reforming Inefficient Energy Pricing: Evidence from China
with Koichiro Ito: w26853
Inefficient energy pricing hinders economic development in many countries. We examine long-run effects of a recent heating reform in China that replaced a commonly-used fixed-payment system with individually-metered pricing. Using staggered policy rollouts and administrative data on household-level daily heating consumption, we find that the reform induced long-run reductions in heating usage and generated substantial welfare gains. Consumers gradually learned how to conserve heating effectively, making short-run evaluations underestimate the policy impacts. Our results suggest that energy price reform is an effective way to improve allocative efficiency and air quality in developing countries, where unmetered-inefficient pricing is still ubiquitous.
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
Does bureaucratic ability predict promotion in governments? We show that self-reported performance in enforcing the One Child Policy predicts mayoral promotion in China. However, misreporting handicaps screening—a non-manipulated performance measure does not predict promotion. We show that this is consistent with a model where a government has a meritocratic objective but underestimates the imperfect verifiability of performance, rather than a model where a government is only interested in the illusion of meritocracy. Thus, despite meritocratic intentions, we challenge the notion that a successful promotion system effectively substituted for democratic institutions in explaining Chinese growth.

Published: Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato & Xiao Yu Wang & Shuang Zhang, 2019. "The limits of meritocracy: Screening bureaucrats under imperfect verifiability," Journal of Development Economics, . citation courtesy of

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...

Published: Douglas Almond & Hongbin Li & Shuang Zhang, 2019. "Land Reform and Sex Selection in China," Journal of Political Economy, vol 127(2), pages 560-585.

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