Working Papers

“Marrying up: Trading off spousal income and height,” (with Pierre-Andre Chiappori, Yu Yang, Junsen Zhang).

Couple’s heights tend to match. However, whether such matching is for the sake of height or the many desirable traits associated with stature (e.g., income) is unclear. We contribute novel experimental and empirical data to identify heterogeneity in preference for mate-height. We recorded clicks on profiles with randomly assigned height and income information on a major online dating website. These clicks reveal that taller men prefer taller women. By contrast, women not only prefer taller men but also higher income men, permitting the calculation of their marginal rates of substitution (MRS) for mate-height and income. Surprisingly, short women have the highest MRS for mate-height. We confirm this heterogeneity in preference for mate-height by applying the method of Chiappori et al. (2017) for multidimensional matching to data on married couples. Short early mothers drive these results. Our evidence is consistent with short women matching non-assortatively to increase the height of their children.

The College Admissions Contribution to the Labor Market Beauty Premium,”. Video, Slides from presentation at CES Session of ASSA, 2020

Beautiful people earn more. Surprisingly, this premium is larger for men than for women and is independent of the degree of customer contact. Overlooked is the possibility that beauty can influence college admissions. We explore this academic contributor to the labor market beauty earnings premium by sampling 1,800 social media profiles of students from universities ranked from 1 to 200 in China and the US. Chinese universities use only standardized test scores for admissions. In contrast, US universities use also grades and extracurricular activities, which are not necessarily beauty-blind. Consistent with beauty-blind admissions, student’s beauty is uncorrelated with the rank of their college in China. In the US, White men from higher ranked colleges are better-looking. As expected, the correlation is insignificant for White men who attended tech colleges and is highest for those who attended private colleges. We also find that White women and minorities of either gender are not better-looking at higher ranked colleges. Our evidence indicates a college admissions contribution to the labor market beauty premium for US White men, but not for students in China of either gender, White women, or minorities of either gender in the US, or for White men who attended technology colleges.

The Gender Difference in Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium Play” (with Gahye (Rosalyn) Jeon).

The mixed strategy Nash equilibrium (MNE) is a well-established concept in theory, but empirical and experimental support has been hampered by the need for a large sample size for across-subject choices and serial correlation for within-subject choices. We overcome these difficulties in testing for MNE play by exploiting a previously developed comparative statics effect for a common value pairwise all-pay auction which, strikingly, predicts that bids increase on perceived opponent’s risk tolerance, but not on the bidder’s own. Men bid as predicted, but women’s bids respond neither to their own nor to the opponent’s risk tolerance. Additionally, while the significance of men’s response to their beliefs about their opponent’s risk tolerance increases with the absence of mistakes on a pre-experiment quiz, women’s lack of response is unaffected by their quiz performance. These results are consistent with a prior finding of a gender difference in MNE play with a large sample of professional tennis players. We contribute by showing that MNE play can be tested with an ordinary sample of subjects in a laboratory setting. We show a gender difference in a factor that is likely crucial in most competitive situations: perceptions of the opponent’s risk tolerance.

"Is women’s competitiveness expressed through their husband’s income?" (with Gahye (Rosalyn) Jeon).

We test for the influence of heterosexual individual’s own and their cohabiting partner’s competitiveness on their own and their partner’s income using a recently validated measure of competitiveness, incorporated in 2017 within a large representative sample survey, with income data from 2015-2021. First, we show that in aggregate, the past (before 2017) and future (after 2017) income levels of men and women increase with their own competitiveness when we do not control for contemporaneous (2017) income. When we control for contemporaneous income to eliminate the potential influence of past success on surveyed competitiveness, we find that only the future income of single men increases on own competitiveness, but not that of cohabiting men or for women irrespective of their cohabitation status. Remarkably, only men’s partner’s competitiveness, not their own, increases their future income. By contrast, men’s own competitiveness increases only their work hours while it decreases their partner’s future income. Women’s competitiveness increases household income, while men’s does not. Inconsistent with women’s competitiveness increasing men’s income by increasing women’s specialization in household production, women’s competitiveness does not increase men’s work hours. Our findings suggest that women’s competitiveness may, paradoxically, be contributing to gender and household income inequalities.