Huayu Xu

I am an Assistant Professor of Economics in National School of Development and ISSCAD at Peking University. I received my PhD from the University of Michigan in 2020. My research interests are in development economics and political economy.

My primary research work combines microdata and policy experiments to understand institutional determinants of human capital and economic development. My second line of research involves randomized controlled trials in field settings, with a focus on the well-being of disadvantaged populations.

Link to my CV


Working Papers

"In-group Preferences and Land Misallocation in China." June 2020. Job Market Paper.

Policymakers' social preferences for in-group members led to spatial misallocation of industrial activities.

"The Long-Term Health and Economic Consequences of Improved Property Rights." April 2020. Revise & Resubmit, Journal of Public Economics.

China's land property reform improved later-life outcomes for individuals who had been exposed early in life. However, it reduced human capital investment for those exposed at critical school ages.

"Hostel Takeover: Living Conditions, Reference Dependence, and the Well-being of Migrant Workers," with Ach Adhvaryu and Anant Nyshadham. June 2020. Revise & Resubmit, Journal of Public Economics.

Worker satisfaction depends critically on how expectations are set by firms. Migrant workers experienced large losses in subjective well-being when randomized improvements in hostel living conditions were more modest than expected.

"Education and the Meritocratic Recruitment of Bureaucrats," with Ach Adhvaryu. December 2020.

Upward social mobility created by merit-based civil exams incentivizes human capital investment in Taiwan.

Research in Progress

"Impacts of Migration and Employment Opportunities on Rural Women and their Families: A Randomized Controlled Trial," with Ach Adhvaryu, Anant Nyshadham, and Priyanka Sarda.

Baseline survey completed. AEA RCT Registry

"Networks of Destruction," with Jean-Louis Arcand, Ran Tao, and Dali L. Yang (draft available upon request).