Working Papers​

Religious Practice and Worker Performance: Evidence from Ramadan Observance in a Large Retail Chain

(with Zihan Hu; 2022)

Abstract: More than six billion people practice certain religions. How religious practices affect worker performance is theoretically ambiguous. On one hand, religious practices require time that are then unavailable for production. Moreover, certain practices, such as fasting, may also directly impact worker productivity. On the other hand, religion may foster better work ethic and workers may find ways to attenuate the potential economic costs. Our paper examines the effects of religious practices on labor supply and productivity and how workers respond to a change of external constraints in the context of observing Ramadan fasting. We obtain high-frequency administrative data from a large retail chain in Indonesia and utilize an event-study approach to compare the performance of Muslim salespersons and their non-Muslim colleagues during Ramadan. We find that Muslim salespersons leave work 22 minutes earlier, and their productivity (after controlling for demand side changes) decreases by 21\% around sunset, compared to their non-Muslim counterparts. Meanwhile, they exert more effort earlier in the day to compensate for decreased productivity later in the day or shorter working hours. Due to their reallocation of efforts, there is no significant change in the aggregate daily sales of Muslim salespersons during Ramadan. Lastly, we find that such effort reallocation is more salient among workers with more Ramadan experience in the workplace, suggesting this optimization is learned over time.

Previously circulated as: Nutrition, Labor Supply, and Productivity: Evidence from Ramadan in Indonesia (with  Zihan Hu; 2019)  

Presentation: IRES Religion Graduate Student Workshop  (Los Angeles, 2022); PacDev (San Francisco, 2022); Pitt Brown Bag (Pittsburgh, 2021); By coauthor: AEA (2021); AASLE (2019); NEUDC (2019); WEA (2019); ASHEcon (2019); WEA International (2019); Cornell Health Economics Seminar (2019); Peking University (2019); Beijing Normal University (2018)  


The Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Health, Crimes, and Socio-economic Outcomes

(with Sumit Agarwal, Jussi Keppo, Yang Yang; 2021)

Abstract: For thousands of years, the use of alcoholic beverages has been an intrinsic component of human culture. While existing research has documented the correlation between alcohol consumption and various health problems, the correlational evidence appears inconsistent, and the causation has not yet been adequately demonstrated. This study provides new evidence on the causal impact of alcohol consumption on health by exploiting a plausible exogenous policy implemented in Finland in 1995, the deregulation of travelers’ duty-free alcohol imports. After the deregulation, the surge in border crossings and alcohol imports resulted in a 12% increase in alcohol consumption nationwide. Based on the significant spatial heterogeneity in the impacts of the policy on alcohol consumption, domestic sales, and drunk driving cases, this study employs a difference-in-differences approach to compare medical expenditures on five major diseases in municipalities located close to border crossings than in those farther away. We find that the deregulation reduced the prevalence of diabetes by 0.11%, coronary heart disease by 1.01%, rheumatoid arthritis by 0.16% and hypertension by 0.138%, while the prevalence of epilepsy was not significantly affected. We also find the policy significantly reduces mental illness. As a consequence, the increase in alcohol consumption does not significantly affect different kinds of crimes. Our findings have significant implications for public policy debates on alcohol consumption and its potential impacts on health and society.

Presentation: ASHEcon (Accepted, St. Louis, 2020);  AASLE (Singapore, 2019);  InaHEA  (Bali, 2019)

Working in Process

The Role of Bureaucrats in  Modernization and Social Stability: Evidence from  China  Late  Qing Period, 1900-1911

Price Discrimination and Inequality

Learning-by-Doing or Learning-and-Specialization?

(with Jussi Keppo, Zihan Hu, and Qi Wu)

Climate Change, Agricultural Production, Food Security, and Food Safety

(with Alberto Salvo and Junjian Yi)