UNNC School of Economics Working Paper Series



Tom Lane and Minghai Zhou use a natural field experiment to test the classic ‘unravelling’ theory in a labour market context. They sent out 12,301 job applications, varying the information on degree classification – a signal of academic quality – that the applicant presented to the employer. Their results do not support the theory and applications which left degree classification undisclosed were significantly more likely to receive positive responses from employers than those disclosing the lowest possible degree classification. Employers treated non-disclosing applicants similarly to those disclosing mid-scale classifications, suggesting the extent to which adverse inference is drawn from missing information is limited. 

CeDEx China Working Paper Series: The Bright Side of Firms’ Political Connections: Evidence from Targeted Poverty Alleviation in China

Elvis Cheng Xu and coauthors propose a framework asserting that top executives’ political connections contribute to firms’ cooperation with governments to realize social goals via their practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR). They argue that political connections allow firms to gain more information, have a better understanding of governmental policies, and thus build a closer tie with local governments in realizing social targets. To test the hypotheses, they exploit a database of Chinese firms’ targeted poverty alleviation (TPA) to construct their empirical analysis. Their study provides new evidence as to how and through which channels firms collaborate with governments in implementing social policy by practicing CSR. 

CeDEx China Working Paper Series: Social Preferences in a Chinese Cultural Context

Saileshsingh Gunessee, Tom Lane and their co-author explore how social distance affects generosity in China. Using an incentivized experiment with a broad Ningbo-based sample, they show that generosity decays at higher levels of social distance. The evidence suggests Chinese people are no more willing to share with strangers in China than with unknown foreigners. However, different patterns of sharing behaviour emerge among different demographic groups of participants.

CeDEx China Working Paper Series: Is Economics An Experimental Science? A Textbook Perspective

Saileshsingh Gunessee and Tom Lane dig deep into the methodological debate about the role of experimentation in economics. Using a unique dataset of past and present economics textbooks, they study what economics students have been told about experimentation over the past 50 years – have students always been told, as is sometimes suggested, that economics is necessarily a non-experimental science? This paper provides a qualitative and quantitative exploration of the evolving rhetoric towards experimental economics and comes to the conclusion that experiments have – gradually – come to be accepted by the economic mainstream.

Health Series 2019.10H: Health Literacy and Its Effect on Chronic Disease Prevention: Evidences from China's National Health Literacy Surveillance Data

Zhuo Chen, Lefan Liu and their coauthors examine the relationship between health literacy and chronic disease prevention by using the Ningbo sample of China’s National Health Literacy Surveillance Survey in 2017. They find that having one or more chronic conditions leads to better knowledge about chronic diseases and thus improved health literacy on chronic disease prevention, mainly for the urban residents. The results imply that health literacy plays a more important role in helping individuals preventing comorbidity than preventing their first chronic disease.

Behavioural Series 2019.9B: Law and Norms: Empirical Evidence

Tom Lane and his co-author design an incentivized vignette experiment which measure social norms relating to actions subject to legal thresholds. Their study shows laws often, but not always, influence norms, exploiting samples with around 800 subjects drawn from universities in the UK and China, and the UK general population. The study is the first to provide a clean empirical test of the proposition that laws exert a causal effect on norms.

Behavioural Series 2019.8B: The Differential Effects of Jesus and God on Distributive Behaviour

Tom Lane designs a dictator game experiment which measures the causal effects of the concepts of God and Jesus on both the pro-sociality of Christians and their propensity to discriminate against LGBTQ people. His study shows that different belief concepts within the same religion can have different effects on distributive behaviour. Specifically, the concept of Jesus significantly raises the amounts Christians donate, but the concept of God does not.

GEP Series 2019.7G: China's Great Migration: The Impact of the Reduction in Trade Policy Uncertainty

Minghai Zhou and his co-authors analyse the effect of China's integration into the world economy on the workers in the country and show that one important channel of impact has been internal migration. They find that prefectures facing the average decline in trade policy uncertainty experience an 18 percent increase in their internal in-migration rate – this result is driven by migrants who are “non-hukou”, skilled, and in their prime working age.

GEP Series 2019.6G: The Impact of Momentum Trades on Return Co-movements and Asymmetric Volatility in Dual Listings

Chaoyan Wang and her co-author investigate the impact of volume on serial return comovements and asymmetric volatility, based on a joint distribution of volume and return. The VAR estimates confirm asymmetric volume co-movements, positive volume return correlations implying continuation, and non-monotonic effects.

GEP Series 2019.5G: Can Direct Union Elections Increase Workers’ Economic Wellbeing in China? Testing Effects and Explaining Mechanisms

Minghai Zhou and his co-authors investigate the effects of direct union elections on workers’ economic wellbeing by using matched employer–employee data. The results show that union members with directly elected leaders receive higher wages than those without and direct union elections are positively correlated with worker satisfaction.

Health Series 2019.4H: The Multi-tiered Medical Education System and Its Influence on the Health Care Market - A China’s Flexner Report

Chee-Ruey Hsieh and his co-author investigate the impact of multi-tiered medical education adopted in China on both the equity in the delivery of health care services and the efficiency of the health care market. The results show a nonuniform distribution of physicians and find that through the channels of adverse selection and moral hazard, the heterogeneity in medical education also imposes costs to the health care market in China.

Health Series 2019.3H: Explaining Cross-country Heterogeneity in Trust in Physicians: the Role of Pharmaceutical Expenditure

Chee-Ruey Hsieh uses 2011 International Social Survey Programme data to explore the potential mechanism in accounting for cross-country heterogeneity in trust in physicians. The study shows that individuals were more likely to believe that physicians serve as imperfect agent if their countries spend a high share of health care costs on pharmaceutical products and a significant negative relationship between the perception of imperfect agency and trust in physicians.

Health Series 2019.2H: Exploring the Intergenerational Correlation of Mental Health in China

Chee-Ruey Hsieh and his co-authors explore the intergenerational correlation of mental health in China using China Family Panel Studies. The results illustrate a significant impact on their children’s mental health from both father’s and mother’s mental health and find that parental mental health appears to have a greater impact on the mental health in the next generation than maternal mental health does.

Health Series 2019.1H: Understanding and Addressing the Treatment Gap in Mental Healthcare: Economic Perspectives and Evidence from China

Chee-Ruey Hsieh and his co-author analyse the potential causes of the large gap between the need for and the provision of mental healthcare treatment from the perspective of economics. The analysis finds that patients with mental illness face four major hurdles in accessing appropriate care, including stigma, high out-of-pocket payment, low availability of mental health resources and the slow diffusion of new medical knowledge and technology.