Justin J. Hong

Hello! I am a Ph.D. candidate (4th 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

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

This paper studies the impact of risk-taking on bureaucratic performance, 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 increased collective decision-making and perceived responsiveness by villagers; I also observe consistent expenditure changes, with higher public good spending and a comparable decline in administration spending. However, zodiac leaders are also less likely to promote policy innovation. Collectively, risk avoidance can shift leader focus toward addressing constituent interests when incentives for responsiveness may be 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 [2021]

I study the impact of corruption on the human capital supply for the state, by exploiting China's staggered anti-corruption inspections that have dampened perceived returns to rent-seeking. Using a representative student-parent panel and unique applicant data from state organizations, I find that reducing corruption induces positive selection for integrity and prosociality into the state sector -- even when conditioned on ability and family background, and there is no salient average impact on the selection for ability. The results hold for both occupational preferences and realized labor supply outcomes. I also show dynamic effects wherein households increase investment in human capital accumulation and the integrity of the next generation, which can further reinforce the static allocational effects and generate long-term dependence. Together, these findings highlight the endogenous supply of talent in response to reward structures as an important mechanism shaping state capacity.

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

History Education and Nation-Building: Evidence from Taiwan (with Y. Lyu) [Submitted] [2019; Current draft: 2023]

Selected Work in Progress

Pre-PhD Research and Other Writings