I am a PhD student in Economics at Princeton University. I work in Empirical Industrial Organization, focusing on Market Design and Urban Economics. I am also interested in the Economics of Digitization.
(Click on paper descriptions to see abstracts)
(JMP) The dynamic allocation of public housing: Policy and
- Joint work with Andrew
Ferdowsian and Luther
- Previously circulated as “Market design, subsidies and supply: Towards
efficient and equitable public housing”
- Presented at:
- 2022: National University of Singapore Business School; 17th CIREQ PhD
Students’ Conference; 50th American Real Estate and Urban Economics
Association (AREUEA) National Conference
- 2021: 15th North American Meeting, Urban Economics Association; Summer
School in Urban Economics, Urban Economics Association; Young Economist
Symposium; 9th Warwick Economics PhD Conference
- Accepted at the AREUEA International Conference in Dublin (2022)
- 2022: National University of Singapore Business School; 17th CIREQ PhD Students’ Conference; 50th American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association (AREUEA) National Conference
- 2021: 15th North American Meeting, Urban Economics Association; Summer School in Urban Economics, Urban Economics Association; Young Economist Symposium; 9th Warwick Economics PhD Conference
We consider the design of a large-scale public housing program, in which apartments are rationed through lotteries, prices, and wait times. In the Singapore program, to achieve various social objectives, the government builds housing that is owned and occupied by 80% of the resident population. These apartments are rationed by quarterly lottery, sold below market prices and can be resold by their occupants on an aftermarket. To evaluate the trade-off the government faces between efficiency and redistribution, we combine tools from Urban Economics and Industrial Organization to formulate a dynamic choice model over housing lotteries. Our model is estimated on novel data from the actual mechanism. Relative to the actual allocation scheme, shutting down intertemporal risk via a strategyproof mechanism reduces vacancies and wait times, but raises prices on the aftermarket by 15%. In contrast, while a small expansion in supply leaves slightly more apartments vacant, the young wait marginally less and existing homeowners are unharmed.
transit infrastructure and inequality: The role of access to non-tradable goods
- Joint work with Brandon Joel Tan.
Since low-income workers are overwhelmingly employed in non-tradable sectors, in response to transit expansion, changes in consumption travel patterns induce a spatial re-organization of low-income jobs in the city, with important implications for inequality. We develop an urban spatial model with heterogeneous worker groups, incorporating travel to consume non-tradable goods and services. The model is estimated using detailed farecard and administrative data from Singapore. After the Downtown Line was built, we find large welfare gains for high-income workers, but near zero for low-income workers. All workers benefit from improved access to consumption opportunities, but jobs in the low-income non-tradable sector move to less attractive workplaces. If we abstract away from consumption travel, we underestimate the line’s effect on inequality by a factor of five. Furthermore, the resulting model fails to capture the spatial re-organization of low-income jobs in the city.
Principal responsiveness in centralized mechanisms: Build to order
How should the supply of public housing be optimally curated? Queuing mechanisms in the literature treat the supply of goods as exogenous. However, in practice, designers can often control the inflow of goods as well. We study a dynamic matching model based on the Singaporean housing allocation process. We show that endogenous supply radically changes the nature of the optimal mechanism. In this mechanism, a key feature is that under-demanded housing is overproduced relative to the static benchmark. Though competition leads to a decrease in efficiency when supply is exogenous, competition instead improves matching when supply is endogenous. Competition can be artificially generated through increasing the thickness of the market by batching applications. We show that doing so is a key feature of the optimal mechanism when the planner places a high weight on match quality.
Economics of Digitization
into two-sided markets shaped by platform-guided search
- Joint work with Leon Musolff.
- Awarded the Rising Star Paper Prize at the 20th International Industrial
Organization Conference (2022)
We evaluate the problem of firms that operate platforms matching buyers and sellers, while also selling goods on these same platforms. By being able to guide consumer search through algorithmic recommendations, these firms can influence market outcomes, a finding that has worried regulators. To analyze this phenomenon, we combine rich novel data about sales and recommendations on Amazon Marketplace with a structural model of intermediation power. In contrast to prior literature, we explicitly model seller entry. This feature enables us to assess the most plausible theory of harm from self-preferencing, i.e. that it is a barrier to entry. We find that recommendations are highly price elastic but favor Amazon. A substantial fraction of customers only consider recommended offers, and recommendations hence noticeably raise the price elasticity of demand. By preferring Amazon’s offer, the recommendation algorithm raises consumer welfare by approximately US$4.5 billion (since consumers also prefer these offers). However, consumers are made worse off if self-preferencing makes the company raise prices by more than 7.8%. Furthermore, we find no evidence of consumer harm from self-preferencing through the entry channel. Nevertheless, entry matters. The algorithm raises consumer welfare in the short and medium run by increasing the purchase rate and intensifying price competition. However, these gains are mostly offset by reduced entry in the long run.
Work in Progress
- Discovering lottery odds: Implications for public housing market design (with Andrew Ferdowsian and Yiying Tan)
- Where should a government locate public housing? (with Brandon Joel Tan)
In 2013, I was a substitute teacher in Biology and Chemistry for 9th and 10th-graders at a top high school in Singapore. From 2014 to 2016, I served as a Residential Peer Mentor in Calculus at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Most recently, my teaching experiences at Princeton span a research seminar for public policy students and intermediate microeconomic theory for sophomores. For the latter, in 2020 and 2021, I was a teaching assistant for ECO 300 (“Microeconomic Theory”) and ECO 310 (“Microeconomic Theory: A Mathematical Approach”), taught by Dr. Andrea Wilson and Professor Can Urgun. Among in-person classes, my average instructor rating was 4.74/5; detailed course evaluations are available upon request.
In my classes, I strongly encourage active student participation and discussion. My pedagogical style emphasizes visual aids and collaborative work. By the end of each class, my students can articulate what they have taken away from their time with me, as well as how this material can be applied beyond the classroom.