Working Papers

The Effect of Parental Rural-to-Urban Migration on Children’s Cognitive Skill Formation” (Job Market Paper)
The large-scale rural-to-urban internal migration in developing countries has affected millions of rural-origin children who have been left behind by their migrant parents. This paper develops a structural model of household migration decisions to evaluate the effects of these choices on the dynamics of children’s cognitive skill formation. I estimate the model via simulated maximum likelihood using data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey. I find that children’s cognitive skill formation process is sensitive to the timing and duration of parental migration. Being left behind one year during early childhood is associated with an average of 2.5% (0.17 standard deviations) reduction in cognitive test scores whereas migrating with parents to urban areas improves cognitive achievements by 3.2% (0.22 standard deviations). However, these effects diminish as children reach adolescence. I use the estimated model to evaluate the impacts of a set of counterfactual migration policies on children, including migration costs reduction, unconditional cash transfer, migration subsidies, and migration taxation. I find that reducing migration costs and migration subsidies are more effective in fostering children’s cognitive development.

Ex Ante Evaluation of the Effects of Migration Policy on Children’s Cognitive Achievements” 
China’s large-scale rural-to-urban migration has affected more than 60 million left-behind children. This paper proposes several migration policies that are aimed at improving these children’s cognitive achievements and quantifies the impacts of these policies prior to their implementation. I develop a model of household migration that embeds a child’s cognitive skill formation process. By exploiting income variation using data from the China Family Panel Studies, I directly evaluate the policy impacts via a nonparametric matching estimator. Counterfactual experiments suggest that a non-migration subsidy is most effective in improving children’s cognitive achievements when it targets low-income families and younger children. When associated with middle school graduation, the policy-induced test score change lifts the probability of graduation by 8.6% for children from low-income households.

“Estimating Demand for Early Child Care and Education Arrangements” 
This paper studies the early child care and education arrangements of American households. I formalize a model in which households are allowed to choose multiple child care arrangements subject to their constraints on time and budget. To account for multiple discreteness, I specify a mixed multiple discrete-continuous logit model. I estimate the model via maximum likelihood using data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education that contains detailed information on the consideration set of childcare choices. I find preference parameters are inconsistent estimated when the choice set of childcare arrangements is misspecified. I use this structure to answer policy questions regarding child care subsidy.


Estimating Peer Effects on Career Choice: A Spatial Multinomial Logit Approach,”  with Robin Sickles & Jenny Williams, forthcoming, Advances in Econometrics
Peers and friends are among the most influential social forces affecting adolescent behavior. In this paper, we investigate peer effects on post-high school career decisions and on school choice. We define peers as students who are in the same classes and social clubs and measure peer effects as spatial dependence among them. Utilizing recent development in spatial econometrics, we formalize a spatial multinomial choice model in which individuals are spatially dependent in their preferences. We estimate the model via Pseudo Maximum Likelihood using data from the Texas Higher Education Opportunity Project. We do find that individuals are positively correlated in their career and college preferences and examine how such dependencies impact decisions directly and indirectly as peer effects are allowed to reverberate through the social network in which students reside.

Work in Progress

“Investments, Migration, and Child Outcome,” with Ajinkya Keskar

“Parenting, Fertility, and Children’s Skill Formation in Developing Countries”