Working Papers

Environmental Standards and Consumers Response: Evidence from Gasoline Content Regulation in China (with Y. Wang and L. Zhang, R&R at Journal of Environmental Economics and Management)

Abstract: This paper estimates consumers’ response to fuel standard regulation and willingness to pay for lower-emission gasoline. We exploit the unique market structural of China and policy-induced emission standard changes at city borders where consumers can freely choose from higher or lower- emission gasoline. Using high-frequency gas station-level data, our identification strategy compares sales volume of gas stations contiguous to each side of the border before and after one side experiences exogenous fuel standard reforms. We find consumers respond positively to fuel standard improvement and substitute higher-emission gasoline with lower-emission one. The enforcement of higher fuel standards increases relative sales at gas stations on the treated side of the boundary by 14%. This estimation corresponds to consumers’ WTP for higher emission standards as about 0.204 US$ per gallon (0.345 CNY per liter), which is amounted to 4.7% of the total gasoline price. Mechanism analysis indicates that consumers care about environmental value of gasoline as the result of green preferences.

Extreme Weather Events and the Media Coverage of Climate Change, Draft Forthcoming

Abstract: This paper explores how extreme weather events affect the elite cue of climate change to understand the divergence between the scientific consensus and public discourse about climate change. I collect all statements released by U.S. congress members from 113 to 117th congress and identify the ones related to climate change or extreme weather events. I then implement text analysis to generate an index score that measures the tones and attitudes of each statement towards climate change, believing or skeptical. Employing an event-study analysis, I investigate how hurricanes affect the congress statements on climate change, in the terms of numbers and tones. My results show that after their congress districts are hit by hurricanes, congress members from both parties tend to be less skeptical towards climate change. The Democrats are likely to have fewer climate-change-related statements after the events, potentially as a result of the crowd-out effect since they release more of those statements on average than Republicans. The Republicans, on the other hand, achieve an increase in the numbers of climate-change-related statements, though insignificant.

New Area- and Population-based Geographic Crosswalks for U.S. Counties and Congressional Districts, 1790-2020 (with A. Ferrara and P. Testa)

Abstract: A common problem in historical research involves harmonizing geographic units across time or different levels of aggregation. One approach is to use “crosswalks” that associate factors located within one geographic unit to different “reference” units based on relative areas. We develop an alternative approach based on relative population, accounting for heterogeneities in urbanization within counties. We construct population-based crosswalks for 1790 through 2020, which map county-level data across U.S. Censuses as well as from counties to congressional districts. Using official Census data for congressional districts, we show that population-based weights outperform area-based ones in terms of similarity to official data.

(Crosswalks, teaching material, and replication files can be downloaded here.)

Well, Excuse Me! Replicating and Connecting Excuse-Seeking Behavior (with B. Ahumada, Y. Chen, N. Gupta, K. Hyde, M. Lepper, W. Matthews, N. Silveus, L. Vesterlund, T. Weidman, A. Wilson, and K. Winichakul)

Abstract: Excuse-seeking behavior that facilitates replacing altruistic choices with self-interested ones has been documented in several domains. In a laboratory study, we replicate three leading papers on this topic: Dana et al. (2007), and the use of information avoidance; Exley (2015), and the use of differential risk preferences; and Di Tella et al. (2015), and the use of motivated beliefs. The replications were conducted as part of a graduate course, attempting to embed one answer to the growing call for experimental replications within the pedagogic process. We fully replicate the simpler Dana et al. paper, and broadly replicate the core findings for the other two projects, though with reduced effect sizes and a failure to replicate on some secondary measures. Finally, we attempt to connect behaviors to facilitate the understanding of how each fit within the broader literature. However, we find no connections across domains.

Selected Works in Progress

Does Opium fuel Insurgent Groups? Evidence from Afghanistan (with A.Mobariz and P. Pan)