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

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

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 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 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 [2021; Draft: 2023][Submitted]

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 likely result in enhanced performance. Changes in occupational preferences from a representative household panel corroborate static talent allocation as the mechanism, with 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 reinforce the allocational effects and generate long-term dependence. Together, the endogenous supply of talent in response to reward structures plays an important role in 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; Draft: 2023]

Rent-Seeking in Identifying Talented Youth: Evidence from Chinese Science Olympiads (with X. Li) 

[Preliminary draft: 2023; updated version coming soon]

Selected Work in Progress

Pre-PhD Research and Other Writings

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