• ​Welcome to my homepage!

    I am a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Economics.


    My research interests include Public Economics, Labor Economics, Economics of Education, and Urban Economics.



    Curriculum Vitae: [PDF, 2020/11]


    Email: alan.yang@wisc.edu



    - Jeffrey Smith (Primary)

    - Christopher Taber

    - Matthew Wiswall

  • Research

    Working Paper


    "Place-Based College Admission, Migration and the Spatial Distribution of Human Capital: Evidence from China"

    April 8th, 2021.



    How to allocate college seats across regions is an important but often controversial question. It may imply a policy tradeoff between efficiency in human capital production and equality of opportunities for people growing up in different places. Regional disparity in college access also impacts the spatial distribution of college-educated workers and thus affects regional inequality in development. This paper studies the province-based college admission quotas in China and evaluates potential reforms. Despite longstanding concerns about the unequal quota allocation across provinces, little is known because China's college entrance exam is not comparable across provinces. Combining individual-level administrative data and college student surveys, I estimate a structural model of college and migration choice under quota constraints, together with a measurement model that can recover the nationally comparable distribution of pre-college human capital in each province. I find substantial gaps of pre-college human capital among college applicants across provinces, but these gaps are not well reflected by the admission quotas. A purely merit-based nationwide admission without provincial quotas increases efficiency at the cost of larger regional inequality: it increases college-student sorting and total human capital output during college, but decreases the college opportunity in less developed provinces and the share of college graduates working in those provinces.



    Selected Work in Progress


    "Understanding College Dropout in the US"

    [w/ Douglas Harris and Christopher Taber]



    "Marrying Up: Trading off Spousal Income and Height"

    [w/ Pierre-André Chiappori, David Ong and Junsen Zhang]

    Draft available upon request.



    Couple’s heights tend to match. However, whether such matching is for the sake of height or the many desirable traits associated with stature (e.g., income) is unclear. We contribute novel experimental and empirical data to identify heterogeneity in preference for mate-height. We recorded clicks on profiles with randomly assigned height and income information on a major online dating website. These clicks reveal that taller men prefer taller women. By contrast, women not only prefer taller men but also higher income men, permitting the calculation of their willingness to pay (WTP) for mate height. Surprisingly, short women have the highest WTP for mate height. We confirm this heterogeneity in preference for mate height by applying the method of Chiappori et al. (2017) for multidimensional matching to data on married couples. Short early mothers drive these results. Our evidence is consistent with short women matching non-assortatively to increase the height of their children.





    "Hard to Get: The Scarcity of Women and the Competition for High-Income Men in Urban China"

    [w/ David Ong and Junsen Zhang]

    Journal of Development Economics, 144 (2020): 102434. [Online Appendix]


    "Collaboration Incentives: Endogenous Selection into Single and Coauthorships by Surname Initials in Economics and Management"

    [w/ David Ong, Ho Fai Chan and Benno Torgler]

    Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 147 (2018): 41-57.


    "Yen or Yuan? The Law of One Price and Economic Integration in Asia​"

    [w/ Vinh Dang and Kenneth Chan]

    The World Economy, 41 (2018): 171–193.


    "Assessing Market Integration in the ASEAN with Retail Price Data"

    [w/ Vinh Dang]

    Pacific Economic Review, 22:4 (2017): 510-532.



  • Teaching

    Teaching Assistant | University of Wisconsin-Madison

    • ECON 400, Intro to Applied Econometrics (undergraduate): Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020
    • ECON 441, Analytical Public Finance (undergraduate): Spring 2018
    • ECON 330, Money and Banking (undergraduate): Fall 2017

    Mentor | University of Wisconsin-Madison

    • Master student summer research group: 2019, 2020