Justin J. Hong

Hello! I am a Ph.D. candidate (5th year) in Economics at Boston University. 

Fields of Interest: Development Economics, Political Economy, Public Economics

Contact Information:  

Email: hjihao@bu.edu

Mailing: Department of Economics, Boston University, 

270 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Working Papers

Risk-Taking and Public Leadership: Evidence from Chinese Villages [2021]

This paper studies the impact of risk-taking on public leadership, by exploiting Chinese "zodiac year" superstitions that generate within-individual variation in risk appetite. Employing a representative village panel (2013-2018), I find that lower risk-taking of village heads leads to improved governance processes and greater perceived responsiveness by villagers; I also observe consistent expenditure changes, with higher public good spending and a comparable decline in administration spending. However, risk-averse leaders are also less likely to promote policy innovation. Collectively, risk avoidance can shift leader focus toward addressing constituent interests when incentives for responsiveness are limited, with a potential trade-off between accountability and public entrepreneurship.

Presentations: BU Development Group (2021), MIT CCPRW (2021)

Corruption and Human Capital Supply for the State [2022]

I study the impact of corruption crackdown on human capital supply for the state, exploiting China's staggered anti-corruption inspections. Using unique applicant data from state organizations, I find that reducing corruption returns induces positive selection for integrity and prosociality into the state sector, without significantly affecting overall ability. These shifts in supply are associated with enhanced performance. Changes in occupational preferences corroborate static talent allocation as the mechanism, in which treated honest types showing higher preferences for state jobs -- even when conditioned on ability and family background. I further document dynamic effects wherein households increase investment in human capital and the integrity of the next generation, which can further reinforce allocational effects and generate long-term dependence. Together, these findings highlight reward structures as an important determinant shaping the state's human capacity. 

Presentations: BU Applied Mirco (2021), Stanford DevPEC (2022), NEUDC (2022), ASSA Annual Meeting (2023, Poster)

Host Favoritism and Talent Selection: Evidence from Chinese Science Olympiads (with X. Li) 

[Newest draft: Feb 2024 ][Draft: Oct 2023]

History Education and Nation-Building: Evidence from Taiwan (with Y. Lyu) 

[2019; Draft: 2024]

Work in Progress

Pre-PhD Research and Other Writings

Presentations: BU Wheelock (2023), SDU*(2023), CUFE*(2023), HKU*(2023)