Working papers


“The Local Economic Impact of International Students: Evidence from US Commuting Zones” (job market paper)

Abstract: Despite the rising costs of higher education, enrollment of international students in the United States has grown dramatically over the past few decades. While increases in international enrollment have been shown to contribute to a vibrant higher education sector, their effects on local economies surrounding universities and colleges are less understood. This paper uses administrative data on the universe of international students enrolled in US higher education between 2001 and 2015 to study the short-term effects of international student enrollment on local workers and firms. I exploit fluctuations in the outflows of international students across sending countries to generate quasi-experimental variation in enrollment. I document three broad sets of results. First, one additional student per thousand residents increases the employment to population ratio by 0.4 percentage points and wages by 0.8 percent. These effects are concentrated in non-tradable industries, especially in construction and services, and significant across different types of workers. Second, these improvements in local labor market conditions reduce college enrollment by natives, especially at two-year programs. Third, net increases in employment mask substantial heterogeneity in job flows. International student enrollment induces job creation through entry and expansion among the most productive firms while simultaneously leads to job destruction through contraction and exit among the least productive. Taken together, these findings highlight substantial economic benefits of international students in the form of increases in local income and aggregate productivity.

“Household Resources and Investments in Children’s Higher Education: The Role of Intrahousehold Bargaining”

Abstract: Across many economic settings, children from wealthier households are more likely to attend post-secondary education. Recent studies have questioned the roles of short-run credit constraints in explaining this relationship and emphasized other long-run determinants that  could be correlated with wealth. This paper argues that when fathers and mothers disagree on how much to invest in children’s education, the extent to which household resources translate into educational attainment critically depends on who controls household resources. Using labor force and household survey data from Indonesia, I examine the importance of intrahousehold decision making in affecting children’s university enrollment. Consistent with a collective framework, I show that changes in women’s outside option relative to men’s result in more decisions made within the household by women, especially those related to expenditure on children. Accordingly, relative improvements in women’s bargaining power when children graduate from high school significantly increase their likelihood of university enrollment, holding household resources and children’s ability constant. This effect is quantitatively similar for both boys and girls. Overall, these findings suggest that intrahousehold bargaining power is a potentially important mediator of the effects of household resources on children’s educational attainment.

“Parental Risk Preferences, Intrahousehold Decision Making, and Investments in Children’s Higher Education: Evidence from Indonesia”

Abstract: This paper examines parents’ investments in children’s education in the presence of uncertainty in returns and intrahousehold heterogeneity in parental risk preferences. Consistent with a collective model of household decision making, I find that both fathers’ and mothers’ risk aversion significantly decrease children’s tendency to enroll in higher education, although effects depend critically on the distribution of intrahousehold bargaining power. Additional results show that parental risk aversion also affects children’s labor market entry upon high school graduation. These findings highlight the roles of parental risk preferences and intrahousehold bargaining dynamics as important mechanisms that contribute to intergenerational persistence in economic outcomes.

Work in progress

“Contract Employment and Life-Cycle Wage Growth in Developing Countries: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data”

“International Students and Natives’ Attitude Towards Immigration” with Julia Zhu