Ning Zhang

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Research Interest

Labor Economics, Macroeconomics

Job-market Paper

"Housing Vouchers, Labor Supply and Household  Formation: A Structural Approach"

Housing policy can play a significant role in the ability of households to progress socioeconomically. This paper studies the effect of the U.S. Housing Voucher Program on low-income household labor supply, family formation and homeownership. With a variety of household datasets, I specify and estimate a life-cycle model that characterizes the effects of housing vouchers, and then examine how a set of policy reforms impact individual behavior and welfare. The results suggest that providing flat housing assistance for all recipients regardless of income increases labor supply but results in higher inequality and lower welfare. Giving a lower subsidy to a larger population reduces total labor supply, homeownership and marriage, but improves overall welfare. Policies that offer the option to use housing vouchers for home buying substantially promote homeownership, marriage and welfare. The results are robust to incorporating the general equilibrium effect of housing vouchers.

Other Works

The Boomerang Kids: Coresidence and Job Mismatch" (with Stefania Albanesi and Rania Gihleb) 


This paper examines the drivers of increased parental coresidence rates for college graduates over the last twenty-five years. Using a structurally estimated model of child-parent decisions we study the role of job mismatch, wages, asset holdings, family background, and preferences in accounting for the differences in outcomes between 1996 and 2008 graduation cohorts based on SIPP data. We show that the coresidence option improves college graduates' labor market outcomes by improving job match quality. Specifically, we find that parental income, student loan, matched job arrival rate, the variance of wage offer and the cost of rent can explain 69% of the fraction of matched job difference and 38% of coresidence difference between 1996 and 2008 college graduation cohorts. 


Childhood Experience and Children's Altruism Toward Parents: The Twins Experiment" (with Junsen Zhang and Hongliang Zhang)

In the mass rustication movement of sending urban youths to the countryside during China's Cultural Revolution, many families with multiple age-eligible children faced a Sophie's choice of selecting whom to send down. We exploit this fact and employ survey data on urban twins in China to investigate the effect of parental send-down choice on children's reverse altruism. We find that the send-down children behave less altruistically toward their parents in terms of both financial transfers and companions (e.g., co-residence, visits, phone calls). While children's altruistic behaviors to parents are jointly determined by their earnings and reverse altruism, both of which can be affected by the send-down experience, we rule out earnings differences or reverse altruism endowment differences as the driving force for the send-down children's less altruistic behaviors, leaving the adverse effect of the send-down experience on reverse altruism preference as the only explanation. 


Published papers:  

The Effect of Mandatory Access Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs on Foster Care Admissions” (with Rania Gihleb and Osea Giuntella) Forthcoming in Journal of Human Resources 


The opioid epidemic is a national public health emergency in America. As the number of fatal overdoses and drug abuse skyrocket, children of opioid-dependent parents are at increased risk of being neglected, abused, or orphaned. While a few studies have examined the effects of policies restricting prescription drug supply on drug abuse, we know less about the effects these policies may have on children of opioid-dependent parents. This study estimates the effect of mandatory prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) on child removals. To identify the effects of the programs on foster care admissions, we exploit the variation across states in the timing of adoption of operational and mandatory PDMPs using an event-study approach as well as standard difference-in-difference models. Consistent with previous evidence examining the effects of PDMPs on drug abuse, we find that operational PDMP did not have any significant effects on foster care admissions. However, the introduction of mandatory provisions reduced child removals by 10%. These effects are driven by the reductions in first removals and strongest among children of young caregivers and white children. 


Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and Neonatal Outcomes” (with Rania Gihleb and Osea Giuntella), Regional Science and Urban Economics, Volume 81, March 2020, 103497 

Over the last two decades, the number of delivering mothers using or dependent on opiates has increased dramatically, giving rise to a five-fold increase in the proportion of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). First, the current study documents NAS trends in the United States and their substantial variation across states. Second, it explores the relationship, if any, between the adoption of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and reductions in NAS incidence across the United States. We find that the introduction of operational PDMPs reduced NAS incidence in the United States by 10%. We also examined the effects on birth outcomes, infant mortality, and other pregnancy complications and find little evidence of any effect of PDMPs on birth weight, premature births, and infant mortality. 



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