Nancy Qian

Nancy Qian
Northwestern University | NU · Department of Managerial Economics & Decision Sciences

Ph. D.

About

68
Publications
67,587
Reads
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3,143
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2009 - present
Yale University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
August 2007 - August 2009
Harvard University
Position
  • Academy Scholar
August 2005 - July 2009
Brown University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)

Publications

Publications (68)
Article
We posit that autocrats introduce local elections when their bureaucratic capacity is low. Local elections exploit citizens’ informational advantage in keeping local officials accountable, but they also weaken vertical control. As bureaucratic capacity increases, the autocrat limits the role of elected bodies to regain vertical control. We argue th...
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We study the effects of European immigration to the U.S. during the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1920) on economic prosperity. Exploiting cross-county variation in immigration that arises from the interaction of fluctuations in aggregate immigrant flows and of the gradual expansion of the railway network, we find that counties with more historical i...
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This paper studies the transition of labor from the state sector to the infant private sector in urban China. We examine the impact of the first wave of housing reforms, which untied access to housing in urban areas from working for the state sector. We find that the reform significantly increased private housing ownership and private-sector employ...
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This paper assesses cross-country variation in life-cycle human capital accumulation, using new evidence fromUS immigrants. The returns to experience accumulated in an immigrant’s birth country before migrating are positively correlated with birth-country GDP per capita. To understand this fact, we build a model of life-cycle human capital accumula...
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This paper documents how life cycle wage growth varies across countries. We harmonize repeated cross-sectional surveys from a set of countries of all income levels and then measure how wages rise with potential experience. Our main finding is that experience-wage profiles are on average twice as steep in rich countries as in poor countries. In addi...
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This study provides evidence of government distortion of news coverage among independently owned media outlets in a democratic regime. It uses data from 1946 to 2010 and documents that U.S. news coverage of human rights abuses committed by foreign governments was associated with membership on the United Nations Security Council and the degree of po...
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Foreign aid is one of the most important policy tools that rich countries use for helping poor countries to improve population well-being and facilitate economic and institutional development. The empirical evidence on its benefits is mixed and has generated much controversy. This paper presents descriptive statistics which show that foreign aid to...
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This study finds that the introduction of sex-selective abortion in Taiwan due to the legalization of abortion when prenatal sex-detection technology was already available increased the fraction of males born at higher parities and changed the composition of mothers choosing to give birth. Controlling for compositional changes, we find that access...
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We study the effect of US food aid on conflict in recipient countries. Our analysis exploits time variation in food aid shipments due to changes in US wheat production and cross-sectional variation in a country's tendency to receive any US food aid. According to our estimates, an increase in US food aid increases the incidence and duration of civil...
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This study investigates the effects of introducing elections on public good expenditures, income distribution and land use in rural China. We collect a large and unique survey to document the history of political reforms and economic policies and exploit the staggered timing of the introduction of elections for causal identification. We find that e...
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This study examines how the economic effects of elections in rural China depend on voter heterogeneity, for which we proxy with religious fractionalization. We first document religious composition and the introduction of village-level elections for a nearly nationally representative sample of over two hundred villages. Then, we examine the interact...
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This paper studies the policy determinants of economic transition and estimates the demand for labor in the infant private sector in urban China. We show that a reform that untied access to housing in urban areas from working for the state sector accounts for more than a quarter of the overall increase in labor supply to the private sector during 1...
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Using recently available large-sample micro data from 36 countries, we document that experience-earnings profiles are flatter in poor countries than in rich countries. Motivated by this fact, we conduct a development accounting exercise that allows the returns to experience to vary across countries but is otherwise standard. When the country-specif...
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This study investigates the effects of introducing elections on public goods and redistribution in rural China. We collect a large and unique survey to document the history of political reforms and economic policies and exploit the staggered timing of the introduction of elections for causal identification. We find that elections significantly incr...
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Full-text available
This study investigates the effects of introducing elections on public goods and redistribution in rural China. We collect a large and unique survey to document the history of political reforms and economic policies and exploit the staggered timing of the introduction of elections for causal identification. We find that elections significantly incr...
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Full-text available
This paper estimates the effect of access to transportation networks on regional economic outcomes in China over a twenty-period of rapid income growth. It addresses the problem of the endogenous placement of networks by exploiting the fact that these networks tend to connect historical cities. Our results show that proximity to transportation netw...
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This paper examines the effect of U.S. food aid on conflict in recipient countries. To establish a causal relationship, we exploit time variation in food aid caused by fluctuations in U.S. wheat production together with cross-sectional variation in a country's tendency to receive any food aid from the United States. Our estimates show that an incre...
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We exploit regional variation in suitability for cultivating potatoes, together with time variation arising from their introduction to the Old World from the Americas, to estimate the impact of potatoes on Old World population and urbanization. Our results show that the introduction of the potato was responsible for a significant portion of the inc...
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The determinants of the observed sex imbalance in Asian and Mus- lim countries has been an intensely debated topic recently. One hy- pothesis that all sides agree on is that increased access to sex-selective abortion significantly increased the number of missing women. How- ever, there is little empirical evidence for this due to the lack of good d...
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We study the wage structure during economic transition in the context of Chinese cities and examine the effect of China's urban housing reforms on the urban wage structure (1988-2005). We find that these reforms, which untied access to housing from state-sector employment, shifted approximately 17% of the labor force from the state sector to the pr...
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Does production technology adoption a¤ect conict? This paper studies this question with yearly historical data on weather, peasant revolts and the di¤usion of sweet potatoes in China between 1470 and 1900. It shows that droughts increased peasant revolts by about 10% whereas the e¤ect of oods was not signi…cant. Moreover, the di¤usion of a new crop...
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This paper investigates the impact of propaganda on participation in violent con-ict. I examine the e¤ects of the infamous "hate radio" station Radio RTLM that called for the extermination of the Tutsi ethnic minority population before and dur-ing the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. I develop a model of participation in ethnic violence where radio broadcasts...
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We examine the supply-side and demand-side determinants of global bilateral food aid shipments between 1971 and 2008. First, we find that domestic food production in developing countries is negatively correlated with subsequent food aid receipts, suggesting that food aid receipt is partly driven by local food shortages. Interestingly, food aid from...
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This paper presents new facts about China’s Great Famine and develops a theory of famine to explain them. First, in 1959, when the famine began, food production was almost three times more than population subsistence needs. Second, we uncover a very surprising fact: regions with higher per capita food production that year suffered higher famine mor...
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Labor market institutions and risk coping mechanisms are fundamental topics to understand develop-ing countries' economies. This paper lies in the intersection of the two. I test the role of labor contracts as an insurance mechanism against idiosyncratic productivity shocks, particularly illnesses. In addition, I introduce the idea and show evidenc...
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This study investigates the extent to which China's high household savings rates can be explained by the life cycle theory. First, we document that Chinese parents depend on their children for support when elderly and that sons provide more sup-port than daughters. Second, we test the two predictions of a simple life-cycle model that account for th...
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This article studies the causes of China's Great Famine, during which 16.5 to 45 million individuals perished in rural areas. We document that average rural food retention during the famine was too high to generate a severe famine without rural inequality in food availability; that there was significant variance in famine mortality rates across rur...
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Studies based on firm-level data find that both exporting firms and multinational corporations pay higher wages for a given skill level. However, the literature overlooks the fact that export manufacturing firms may also change the educational choices of the workforce. In this paper, I confirm that for Mexico during the period 1986-2000, the export...
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This paper provides an overview of the long-term impacts of the Columbian Exchange -- that is, the exchange of diseases, ideas, food crops, technologies, populations, and cultures between the New World and the Old World after Christopher Columbus' voyage to the Americas in 1492. We focus on the aspects of the exchange that have been most neglected...
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This paper presents novel empirical evidence on the impact of access to abortion on sex ratios at birth (SRB), excess female mortality (EFM) and fertility in Taiwan. For identification, we exploit plausibly exogenous variation in the availability of sex-selective abortion caused by the legalization of abortion. Our results show that the legalizatio...
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Abstract This paper investigates the extent to which strategic objectives of the U.S. government influenced news coverage during the Cold War. We establish two relationships: 1) strategic objectives of the U.S. government cause the State Department to under-report human rights violations of strategic allies; and 2) these objectives reduce news cove...
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In this paper regional variation in suitability for cultivating potatoes, together with time variation arising from their introduction to the Old World from the Americas is being exploited, to estimate the impact of potatoes on Old World population and urbanization. Their results show that the introduction of the potato was responsible for a signifi...
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I estimate the impact of Islamic rule on secular education and labor market outcomes. Using a regression discontinuity design, I compare elections where an Islamic party barely won or lost municipal mayor seats in Turkey. The results show that Islamic rule has had a large positive e¤ect on education, especially for women. This impact is not only la...
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I estimate the impact of local Islamic rule on secular education in a regression discontinuity design, comparing elections where an Islamic party barely won or lost municipal mayor seats in Turkey. Anecdotal accounts suggest the importance of local political Islamic organization in alleviating barriers to entry for the poor an pious facing restrict...
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Many believe that increasing the quantity of children will lead to a decrease in their quality. This paper exploits plausibly exogenous changes in family size caused by relaxations in China's One Child Policy to estimate the causal effect of family size on school enrollment of the first child. The results show that for one-child families, an additi...
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This paper estimates the long run impact of famine on survivors in the context of China’s Great Famine. To address problems of measurement error of famine exposure and potential endogeneity of famine intensity, we exploit a novel source of variation in regional intensity of famine derived from the unique institutional determinants of the Great Fami...
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This paper examines the e¤ect of urban housing privatization on labor mobility in China. The reform untied housing access from state sector employment and transferred property rights from the state to individuals. We exploit city-speci…c timing of the reform for identi…cation and show that the reform can explain approximately one-fourth of the incr...
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To examine the impact of Internet use on corruption we develop a novel identi…cation strategy for Internet di¤usion. Power disruptions damage digital equipment. This increases the user cost of IT capital, which in turn lowers the speed of Internet di¤usion. A natural phenomenon causing power disruptions is lightning activity. Using global satellite...
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There is an emerging consensus among macro-economists that differences in technology across countries account for the major differences in per-capita GDP and the wages of workers with similar skills across countries. Accounting for differences in technology levels across countries thus can go a long way towards understanding global inequality. One...
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This paper uses a country-level panel dataset to test the hypothesis that the United States biases its human rights reports of countries based on the latters’ strategic value. We use the difference between the U.S. State Department’s and Amnesty International’s reports as a measure of U.S. "bias". For plausibly exogenous variation in strategic valu...
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I estimate the economic impact of the construction of colonial India's railroad network from 1861-1930. Using newly collected district-level data on annual output, prices and internal trade flows I find that the railroad network had the following effects: (1) Railroads caused transport costs along optimal routes to fall by 73 per-cent for an averag...
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This paper studies the causal impact of China's rising demand for natural resources (NR) on Sub-Saharan African political and economic development. We separately instru-ment for NR exports to China, to the World, to the U.S. and India with the interaction terms of a African country's NR endowment and the demand for those resources for the respectiv...
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In the past century, more people have perished from famine than from both world wars combined. Yet we know little about why the intensity of famines can vary so much geo-graphically or what the long run e¤ects of exposure are to survivors. This paper addresses both of these questions in the context of China's Great Famine. We …rst show a novel sour...
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Economists have long argued that the sex imbalance in developing countries is caused by underlying economic conditions. This paper uses exogenous increases in sex-specific agricultural income caused by post-Mao reforms in China to estimate the effects of total income and sex-specific income on sex-differential survival of children. Increasing femal...
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Many countries with "deficits" in their female population see banning sex-selective abortion as a way to curb the observed sex imbalance without discussing potentially negative unintended consequences of this ban on female survival rates as parents may be forced to substitute post-natal for pre-natal sex-selection. This paper presents novel empiric...
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From 1935 to 1963 a malaria eradication campaign in Sri Lanka reduced incidence from 97% of the population to 17 cases. This paper combines this exogenous malaria eradication campaign and the pre-existing heterogenous malaria levels in Sri Lanka with two household surveys to identify the e¤ect of malaria eradication on fertility, survival, and huma...
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In the past century, more people have perished from famine than from the two World Wars combined. Many more were exposed to famine and survived. Yet we know almost nothing about the long run impact of famine on these survivors. This paper addresses this question by estimating the effect of childhood exposure to China's Great Famine on adult health...
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In the past century, more people have perished from famine than from the two World Wars combined. Many more were exposed to famine and survived. Yet we know almost nothing about the long run impact of famine on these survivors. This paper addresses this question by estimating the effect of childhood exposure to China’s Great Famine on adult health...
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This paper evaluates the prospects for income tax reform in China during the coming decade (with a comparison to India), and argues that such reforms should rank high on the policy agenda in these two countries. Due to high average income growth and sharply rising top income shares during the 1990s and early 2000s, progressive income taxation is ab...
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Millions of individuals have perished from famine in the past century. Surprisingly little is known about the long run impacts of famines on survivors. This paper estimates the effect of childhood malnutrition on adult outcomes by estimating the long run impact of childhood expo-sure to China's Great Famine (1959-1961). There are two main empirical...
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This dissertation is a collection of three independent essays in empirical development economics using data from China. In the first two chapters, I examine the determinants of choices within the household. In the first chapter, I estimate the causal effects of total income, relative female and relative male income on sex imbalance. The second chap...
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Severe sex imbalance exists in many developing countries. However, the observed association between sex ratios and economic conditions re- flects omitted variables such as sex preference. This paper uses exogenous increases in agricultural income and relative female income caused by post-Mao reforms to estimate the effect of total household income...
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There is a negative correlation between quantity and quality of chil-dren across countries and across households within a country. How-ever, because parents simultaneously choose the quantity and quality of their children, the observed correlation between family size and child outcomes cannot be interpreted as causal. This paper exploits exoge-nous...
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This paper investigates the extent to which the government can strategically distort a free media market by examining the eect of the U.S. State Department's bias in human rights reporting on coverage in the New York Times. To establish causality, we exploit a novel source of variation in the strategic value of a country to the U.S. government. We...
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Full-text available
This paper exploits regional variation in suitability for culti- vating potatoes together with time variation arising from their introduc- tion to the Old World during the 17th century to estimate the impact of potatoes on population and urbanization. The results show that access to potatoes made a significant contribution to the increase in popula...
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Full-text available
This paper investigates the extent to which the government can strategically ma- nipulate news in a highly competitive media market of independently owned outlets. We examine the effect of the U.S. State Department's favorably under-reporting of hu- man rights violations for its strategic allies on the New York Times' coverage of human rights abuse...
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We use plausibly exogenous variation in agricultural pro- ductivity caused by the introduction of potatoes to Europe, Asia and Africa to estimate the causal effect of an increase in agricultural produc- tivity on population growth and economic development, measured by urbanization. Using a difference-in-differences (DID) estimation strat- egy, we e...
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This paper investigates the extent to which primary information sources can distort a competitive media market by examining the eect of the U.S. State Department's bias in human rights reporting on coverage in the commercial media. To identify causality, we exploit a novel source of variation in the strategic value of a country to the U.S. The resu...