I am postdoc in education policy with Susanna Loeb in the Annenberg Institute at Brown.

I was a postdoc at Princeton in 2019-20 and currently a visiting researcher at Yale with Adam Kapor, Christopher Neilson, and Seth Zimmerman. I received my Ph.D. in Higher Education (economics and K-20 policy concentrations) from the University of Michigan in 2019.

I work on the economics of education, with a particular interest in understanding and improving public policy to improve readiness, access, choice, match, and success in higher education to reduce poverty and inequality.

Why do I want to improve education policy and school effectiveness for the poor? One reason: "25 dangerous roads to school in the world."

Research Projects

My current research focuses on leveraging behavioral interventions, data and algorithms, and education policy designs to improve and equalize college access, choice, and success in the U.S. and China.

Optimal decisions in college and major choice
Big data for college-major choice: STEM, teachers' college, medical school
Improving take-up, targeting, and effectiveness of college choice interventions
Improving choice, engagement, and persistence for and in college
Informational interventions for middle school transition, high school coursetaking, and engagement
Nudge to increase college engagement and performance and to reduce dropout
Expanding and equalizing the benefits of K-12 and higher education reforms
Long-run impacts of education finance reforms
Distributional effects of higher education policy: Expansion, financial aid, and admissions mechanisms

Current Research

Optimal decisions in college and major choice
  • Personalized advising for college match: Experimental evidence on the use of human expertise and machine learning to improve college choice, 2020 [pdf]
  • Improving college choice for the poorest students: Results from randomized experiments in centralized admissions, 2020, revise and resubmit [pdf]
  • Heterogeneous preference for extrinsic incentives: The effects of wage information on the gender gap in STEM major choice, 2020, revise and resubmit [pdf]
  • The impact of COVID-19 on reducing medical student dropout, with Muxin Zhai et al., under review
  • Impacts of academic mismatch on college and labor market outcomes, with Xin Li, Xiaogang Wu, under review
  • Going global: Simulating policy-induced shocks in the supply of international graduate students from China, with Suhong Yang, Dean He, under review
  • Big data for college-major choice: STEM, teachers' college, medical school, in progress
  • Traditional dietary habits and interprovincial migration in college choice, with Le Kang, Yanqing Ding, ECNU Review of Education, 2020 [link]
Improving choice,engagement, and persistence for and in college
  • Religion and motivated cognition: When Ramadan meets the College Entrance Exam, with Ao Wang, Shaoda Wang, 2020, under review
  • How does high school math impact college choice and post-schooling earnings? Modeling simultaneously multinomial treatments and outcomes, with Stephen DesJardins, Brian McCall, 2020
  • How college choices disadvantage disadvantaged students under centralized college admissions systems? with Prashant Loyalka, Binzhen Wu, 2020
  • Data-driven decisions for high school STEM coursetaking and engagement, with Susanna Loeb, in proress
  • K-12 school transitions and college-going outcomes, with Brian Jacob, Susanna Loeb, in progress
  • Long-run impacts of free PreK and behavioral interventions to expand the free PreK opportunities, with Adam Kapor, John Eric Humphries, Chris Neilson, Seth Zimmerman, in progress
  • Improving social mobility by helping rural students make informed college choices, with Ao Wang, Shaoda Wang, in progress
Expanding and equalizing the benefits of K-12 and higher education reforms
  • Do teachers' college prepare better teachers? with Qi Zheng et al., under review
  • Recruiting the very best furture K-12 teachers using free college: Experimental evidence on why if fails, in progress (recent presentation at 2020 APPAM)
  • Intergovernmental transfer with heterogeneous accountabilities, with Yanqing Ding, Fengming Lu, Economics of Educaiton Review, 2020 [link]

Publications in Chinese

  1. The impact of informational interventions on college-major choice: Evidence from a large-scale randomized experiment, with Jin Yang et al., China Economic Quarterly, forthcoming.
  2. Retaking college entrance exam: Evidence from a regression discontinuity design, with Yan Zhang et al., Global Education, 2019.
  3. Who benefits from college expansion in China? Evaluation of access of higher education, with Yanqing Ding, Yinduo Wu, Jin Yang, Research in Education Development, 2019.
  4. Who benefits from college expansion in China? Evaluation of labor market performance of college graduates, with Yanqing Ding, Yinduo Wu, Jin Yang, Journal of National Academy of Education Administration, 2019.
  5. Undermatched college choice among low-income students, with Si Chen, Yanqing Ding, Xiao Liu, Yinduo Wu, China Economics of Education Review, 2018.
  6. Gaokao and education investment: Public high school performance pay under accountability, with Yinduo Wu, Jin Yang, Education & Economy, 2017. Reprinted in Xinhua Digest, 2017.
  7. Why have some local governments closed more rural schools than others?, with Yanqing Ding, Shaoda Wang, China Economics of Education Review, 2016. Lead article. Reprinted in Xinhua Digest, 2017.
  8. Expanding Chinese higher education: Quality and social stratification, with Yanqing Ding, Chinese Journal of Sociology, 2015. Reprinted in Higher Education (Renmin University of China Press), 2015; Chinese Social Science Digest (Social Sciences in China Press), 2015.
  9. The causal effects of high school choice in China, with Jinling Chen, Yanqing Ding, Education Research Monthly Review, 2014.
  10. Local government incentives, fiscal constraint and education expenditure, in Lin et al. (eds) Public Finance Reform and Urbanization in China, China Finance & Economics Press, 2012.
  11. Parental political capital and children’s school choice: Evidence from China, World Economics Papers, 2012.
  12. Village schools: A symbol of the nation or deformation of the city?, Education Journal, 2011.

Teaching Intersts

  • Economics of education (K-12, higher, international)
  • Applied econometrics and big data in education policy

Teaching Experience

Guest Lecturer in 2020
Graduate Student Instructor at University of Michigan
  • Quantitative Methods in Program Evaluation, with Brian Jacob, Fall 2017
  • Categorical Dependent Variable Modeling, with Stephen DesJardins, Fall 2016
Visiting Instructor at Peking University
  • Education Finance, Spring 2018
  • Education and Human Resources, Spring 2017
Teaching Assistant at Peking University
  • Economics of Education, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2017
  • Quantitative Methods for Education Research, Spring 2012, Fall 2012
  • Causal Inference in Economics of Education, Spring 2012
  • Applied Research in Educational Leadership, Fall 2011, Spring 2012

"The flowers bloom."

(Shangde School, Wen County, Gansu Province, 2009)

Three books, five mentors, and 1,000,000 poor students guided my Ph.D. studies on #CollegeChoice, #BehavioralInsights, #CollegeAccess, #EconomicsOfEducation, #StudentSuccess, #Poverty, #EducationOpportunity, #DecisionMaking, #Inequality.

An unusual first year (2020!) after graduate school