Working Papers

This paper studies the macroeconomic consequences of large-scale family policies in a heterogeneous-agent overlapping generations model with endogenous fertility and child investments, a multi-period demographic structure, and childcare choices. I find that cash rewards for childbirth raise fertility at the expense of human capital and intergenerational mobility in the long run. Meanwhile, average welfare rises as the old-age dependency ratio drops, leading to lower budget-balancing tax rates and higher consumption over the life cycle. In contrast, childcare and education subsidies are less cost-effective in boosting fertility, but they reduce income inequality and raise intergenerational mobility.

Teachers and the Evolution of Aggregate Inequality

Presentation slides

Teachers account for less than 5% of the workforce but have disproportionate impacts on the achievements of future generations. This paper studies how the reward structure of teachers affects the evolution of income inequality at the aggregate level. I show that, in a dynamic environment, there is a two-way relationship between teacher quality and population-wide human capital distribution. On the one hand, the occupation selection effect on teacher quality is proportional to the dispersion of human capital. On the other hand, deteriorating teacher quality elevates the dispersion itself when teachers and parental inputs are substitutes in children's human capital production. I use empirical evidence on duty-to-bargain laws to identify the model in closed form and quantify this mechanism. Counterfactual results suggest that raising the returns to human capital among teachers, e.g., through performance-based compensations, has large dynamic spillover effects such as reducing income inequality among non-teachers and boosting intergenerational mobility.


Bounding Fertility Elasticities

Economics Letters, Volume 228, July 2023

Working paper version

I propose a technique for bounding the magnitude of fertility responses to changes in the cost of children, i.e., fertility elasticity, for any country and year. The range is consistent with empirical estimates and is more precise than current meta-analyses. 

with Ananth Seshadri

Journal of Monetary Economics, Volume 129, 1-20, July 2022

Working paper version

Nearly 40% of births in the United States are unintended, and this phenomenon is disproportionately common among Black Americans and women with lower education. Given that being born to unprepared parents significantly affects children’s outcomes, could family planning access affect intergenerational persistence of economic status? We extend the standard Becker–Tomes model by incorporating an endogenous family planning choice. In a policy counterfactual where states reduce family planning costs for the poor, intergenerational mobility improves by 0.3 standard deviations on average. We also find that differences in family planning costs account for 20% of the racial gap in upward mobility.

Staying at Home: Mobility Effects of COVID-19

with Sam Engle and John Stromme

Covid Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers, Issue 4, 86-102, April 2020

County-level data, VoxEU article

We combine GPS data on changes in average distance travelled by individuals at the county level with Covid-19 case data and other demographic information to estimate how individual mobility is affected by local disease prevalence and restriction orders to stay at home. We find that a rise of local infection rate from 0% to 0.003% is associated with a reduction in mobility by 2.31%. An official stay-at-home restriction order corresponds to reducing mobility by 7.87%. Counties with larger shares of population over age 65, lower share of votes for the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential election, and higher population density are more responsive to disease prevalence and restriction orders. 

Work in Progress

Income Inequality, Human Capital, and Marketization of Home Production

Asymmetric Fertility Elasticities: Evidence, Theory, and Policy Implications

with Sam Engle

Retirement, Fertility, and the Dynamics of Dependency Ratios

with Long Hong

Trade, Fertility, and Education: The Family Connection Redux

with Ananth Seshadri

Increasing China's Fertility Rate: Policy Tools and Aggregate Outcomes

with Alan Yang and Yushi Wang