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.

Choice averse behavior and sampling risk: a field experiment with actual shoppers” (with Mengxia Zhang). Under review

A large body of chiefly laboratory research has attempted to demonstrate that people can exhibit choice averse behavior (CAB), i.e., a lower probability of an active choice, from cognitive overload when faced with many options. However, meta-analyses of these studies, which are generally of one or two product lines, reveal conflicting results. Findings of CAB are balanced by findings of choice loving behavior (CLB). Unexplored is the possibility that many consumers may purchase in order to reveal their tastes for unfamiliar products, rather than attempt to forecast their tastes before purchase. I model such ‘sampling-search’ behavior and predict that the purchases of unfamiliar consumers increase with the available number of varieties for popular product lines and decrease for niche product lines. To test these predictions, I develop a measure of popularity and surveyed 1,440 shoppers for their preferences over 24 product lines with 339 varieties at a large supermarket. 35,694 shoppers were video recorded after the varieties they faced on shelves were randomly reduced. As found in the meta-studies, both CLB and CAB were observed. However, in accordance with the prediction, the probability of CLB increases with the number of available varieties for popular product lines, whereas CAB increases with available varieties for niche product lines.

The College Admissions Contribution to the Labor Market Beauty Premium,” (with Man Xie and Junsen Zhang). Video

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.

Competition Between and Within Universities: Theoretical and Experimental Investigation of Group Identity and the Desire to Win” (with Zhuoqiong Chen and Roman Sheremeta.

We study how group identity, based on university affiliation, impacts competitive behavior. Our experiment employs a simple all-pay auction within and between two university subject pools. Students within the lower tier university bid more aggressively against each other than students within the top-tier university against each other. Lower tier students, particularly female, bid more aggressively when competing against top-tier students. Interpreted through a theoretical model which incorporates both group identity and differential valuation of winning, our data indicate that students at the lower tier university have a stronger group identity as well as higher desire to win.

Pro bono work and trust in expert fields”.

Fishy gifts: bribing with shame and guilt”.


“When to wait for Mr. Right: selection and adverse selection in marriage markets,” (with Junsen Zhang).

“Dominance and achievement on standardized tests in China,” (with Man Xie and Ruixin Wang).

“Family connections, gender equity and female heads of state in Asian and Western democracies”(with Zhuqing Yang and Miao Zhang).

“Trophy Mates: the competition with and for beauty and income in Chinese cities,” (with Junsen Zhang).

“Mother’s education and the gender of children in China” (with Naijia Guo and Xiaoyu Xia).

“Gender identity and family formation in China” (with Qing Wang).

“The Mixed strategy Nash Equilibrium, value of winning, risk aversion, and the false-consensus effect,” (with Gahye Jeon).

“Structured Contests” (with Zhuoqiong Chen).

“The Timing of Insider Trading,” (with Suman Banerjee).

“Mutual certification in expert fields”.