Zihan Hu
Ph.D. Student
Policy Analysis and Management
Too Hot to Handle: The Effects of High Temperatures during Pregnancy on Adult Welfare
 (with Teng Li, accepted at the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management )

This paper studies the long-term effects of high temperatures during pregnancy on later-life outcomes for Chinese adults. Adults experienced one additional high-temperature day during in utero period, on average, attain 0.02 fewer years of schooling, increase the risk of illiteracy by 0.18%, achieve lower standardized word-test score by 0.48%, and are shorter by 0.02 cm. The impacts are greater in the first and second trimesters. Additionally, we find that income effects represent one important channel to explain the adverse effects of hot weather. Back-of-the-envelope predictions suggest that by the end of the 21st century, a 0.14-0.54 reduction in years of education and a 0.21-0.84 cm reduction in height is likely to result from climate change, ceteris paribus.


Nutrition, Labor Supply, and Productivity: Evidence from Ramadan in Indonesia (with Zhiwen Wang)

Lying at the heart of nutrition efficiency wage hypothesis, the effect of nutrition deficiency on labor market outcomes is heavily understudied. This is primarily due to data limitations and a shortage of credible exogenous nutrition shocks for workers. We overcome both challenges by using high-frequency administrative data from a large retailer chain in Indonesia to study the nutrition shock induced by fasting during Ramadan for Muslim salespersons, a non-physically demanding occupation. 

Based on an event study approach comparing Muslim and non-Muslim salespersons, we find significant negative effects on productivity during the two hours before sunset, the period they suffer most from energy deficiency. And the productivity recovers back to normal right after Muslim salespersons break fasting after sunset.  Moreover, such effects are not detectable using lower frequency data. We also find graduate increasing effects of Ramadan on absence from work among Muslim salespersons. And it takes time for such effects to fade away in the month following Ramadan. On average, Muslim salespersons also work 20 minutes less on a working day during Ramadan. We provide a detailed discussion about why the effects of Ramadan are in line with nutrition mechanism and address major competing explanations such as demand shock, family reunion events, additional religious rituals, sleep deprivation, and holiday effects.


Fertility Transition in China: Does the One-Child Policy Matter? (with Gordon Liu and Samantha Vortherms)

 This paper provides some evidence of the non-binding nature of the One Child Policy, suggesting a minimal impact of the policy on fertility rates. In October 2015, China announced the shift to a two-child policy, ending thirty-five years of One-Child Policy Implementation in an attempt to increase fertility rates. But the true determinant of fertility reduction is difficult to parse out. If socio-economic development dropped fertility rates close to the one-child quota, policy liberalization will have little impact of total fertility rate. We take advantage of rich census data and variation in policy implementation of the One and a Half Child Policy (OHCP), a loosening of the Strict One Child Policy (SOCP) in 1984, to evaluate how fertility responded to a loosening of policy. Using multiple waves of census data, we estimate a Triple-Differences model with both pre- and post-policy measures, interacted with the first-born child gender to identify the treatment effect of the OHCP against the SOCP as a control group. We find minimal differences in fertility between the two groups, suggesting that most eligible couples voluntarily forwent this extra quota, pointing to the minimal impact the One Child Policy has on fertility rates. Our findings suggest that China's fertility transition, to a large extent, is not attributable to the one-child policy and policy liberalizations are unlikely to lead to a direct increase in fertility.


Hu, Z., & Li, T. (2019). Too hot to handle: The effects of high temperatures during pregnancy on adult welfare outcomes. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 94, 236–253. 

Ph.D., Economics, Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University, 2017-present
Master (by Research), Economics, National University of Singapore, 2014-2017.
A.B., Economics, Peking University, 2009-2014.

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