Zhang, Weilong

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  • Publication
    Essays In Labor Economics
    (2018-01-01) Zhang, Weilong
    This thesis consists of three chapters. They explore develop and estimate economic models to analyze questions of interests to public policies. Chapter 1 develops and estimates a spatial general equilibrium job search model to study the effects of local and universal (federal) minimum wage policies. In the model, firms post vacancies in multiple locations. Workers, who are heterogeneous in terms of location and education types, engage in random search and can migrate or commute in response to job offers. The model is estimated by combining multiple databases including the American Community Survey (ACS) and Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI). The estimated model is used to analyze how minimum wage policies affect employment, wages, job postings, vacancies, migration/commuting, and welfare. Empirical results show that minimum wage increases in local county lead to an exit of low type (education<12 years) workers and an influx of high type workers (education>12 years), which generates negative externalities for workers in neighboring areas. The model is used to simulate the effects of a range of minimum wages. Minimum wage increases up to $14/hour increase the welfare of high type workers but lower the welfare of low type workers, expanding inequality. Increases in excess of $14/hour decrease welfare for all workers. Two counterfactual policies are further evaluated under this framework: restricting labor mobility and preempting local minimum wage laws. For a certain range of minimum wages, both policies have negative impacts on the welfare of high type workers, but benecial effects for low type workers. Chapter 2 poses a dynamic discrete choice model of schooling and occupational choices that incorporates time-varying personality traits, as measured by the so-called "Big Five" traits. The model is estimated using the Household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) longitudinal dataset from Australia. Personality traits are found to play a critical role in explaining education and occupational choices over the lifecycle. The traits evolve during young adult years but stabilize in the mid-30s. Results show that individuals with a comparative advantage in schooling and white-collar work have, on average, higher cognitive skills and higher personality traits, in all ve dimensions. The estimated model is used to evaluate two education policies: compulsory senior secondary school and a 50% college subsidy. Both policies are found to be effective in increasing educational attainment, but the compulsory schooling policy provides greater benets to lower socioeconomic groups. Allowing personality traits to evolve with age and with years of schooling proves to be important in capturing policy response heterogeneity. Chapter 3 develops and estimates a model of how personality traits affect household time and resource allocation decisions and wages. In the model, households choose between two behavioral modes: cooperative or noncooperative. Spouses receive wage offers and allocate time to supply labor market hours and to produce a public good. Personality traits, measured by the so-called "Big Five" traits, can affect household bargaining weights and wage offers. Model parameters are estimated by Simulated Method of Moments using the Household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) data. Personality traits are found to be important determinants of household bargaining weights and of wage offers and to have substantial implications for understanding the sources of gender wage disparities.