Huayu Xu

I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Peking University, affiliated with the National School of Development and ISSCAD. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2020, specializing in development economics. 

My research primarily focuses on the determinants and consequences of human capital formation, environmental and technological barriers to agricultural productivity, and the impact of management practices and personnel policies on employee performance and well-being. I utilize a combination of microdata, policy experiments, and randomized controlled trials in my studies.

Link to my CV



"The Long-Term Health and Economic Consequences of Improved Property Rights."  Journal of Public Economics, 2021.

Early-life exposure to China's land property reform improved later-life outcomes. However, reform exposure at critical school ages reduced human capital investment.

"The Human Capital Effects of Access to Elite Jobs,"  with Ach Adhvaryu. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming.

Individuals who enjoyed greater access to elite bureaucratic jobs invested more in schooling and achieved better labor market outcomes.

"Hostel Takeover: Living Conditions, Reference Dependence, and the Well-being of Migrant Workers," with Ach Adhvaryu and Anant Nyshadham. Journal of Public Economics, 2023.

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.

"The Power of Children in Energy Conservation: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," with Yuan Wang, Xiaoguang Xu, and Yongmei Zhou.

An innovative energy conservation program targeting young students led to a 7% reduction in household electricity consumption.

"The Agricultural and Economic Impacts of Massive Water Diversion," with Guangbo Huang, Chong Liu, Tianyang Xi, and Wei You.

China's South-North Water Diversion Project has significantly benefited water-recipient regions without detrimentally impacting the source areas.

"Land Reform and Health Endowments at Birth," with Yawen Ding and Xiaobing Wang.

Increased labor productivity from land reform boosted health endowments at birth.

"In-group Preferences and Land Misallocation in China."  

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

Selected Work in Progress

"The Value of Managing Up: A Field Experiment in the Workplace," with Ach Adhvaryu, Anant Nyshadham, and Hugh Wu.

Intervention and Data Collection OngoingAEA RCT Registry

"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