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
Mailing: Department of Economics, Boston University,
270 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Risk-Taking and Public Leadership: Evidence from Chinese Villages [2021; Under revision ]
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 local welfare inputs and a comparable decline in administration spending. However, zodiac leaders are also less likely to promote policy innovation. Collectively, risk avoidance can shift leaders' focus toward addressing citizens' interests in an institutional setting where 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 
This paper studies 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 impact on the selection for ability. The results hold for both occupational preferences and realized labor supply outcomes. I also show dynamic effects that households increase inputs into human capital accumulation and the conduct of the next generation following anti-corruption inspections, 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 Curriculum and Nation-Building: Evidence from Taiwan (with Y. Lyu) [Submitted] [2019; Current draft: December 2022]
Selected Work in Progress
Leader Preferences and Spatial Allocation (with Y. Zhao)
Robots and State Capacity
Pre-PhD Research and Other Writings
The Cultural Roots of Corruption
Elites and Masses (with R. Fisman and G. Xu) [currently resting]
Sociopolitical Legacies of the 1998 Yangtze River Flood [currently resting]