Research

ABOUT My Research

I am an applied economist with expertise in empirical microeconomics and environmental and resource economics.

My philosophy is that combining both empirical and theoretical approaches (or put differently, normative and positive approaches) is essential in economic research. Theoretical models that fail to exlain observed economic phonenomena should not be used to construct policy advice. Empirical findings that are not well founded in economic theory and cannot advance economic models, no matter how interesting they might be, shoud not be used in informing policies. In this sense, I concur with Heckman (QJE, 2000; JPE, 2001) on the nature of empirical economics.

My current research evolves around three areas, details of which can be found below:
1. Environmental regulations, firm productivity, and intra- and inter-industry allocations;
2. Labor market and transportation mode choices;
3. Consumer choices under uncertainty about environmental and health risk.

Environmental regulations, firm productivity, and inter-/intra-industry allocations

With increased scientific findings on climate change, environmental policies aimed at controlling greenhouse gases are likely to be substantially more stringent over the next few decades, both in developed and developing countries. Environmental economists are still yet to form a unified and coherent understanding of how environmental regulations affect industry structures, firm-level productivity, and intra- and inter-industry allocations, in a complex world economy. Such a unified theory should be consistent with empirical regularities and be robust to a variety of setups: one-country-one-industry model or multi-country-multi-industry model with or without international trade of goods, and with or without international trade of emissions.

Labor market and transportation choices

Emissions from mobile sources continue to present a number of health and environmental concerns. This is so not only in fast growing economies such as China and India, but also in developed countries such as Japan and Europe where much of the running vehicles adopt advanced fuel efficiency and emissions control technologies. This occurs because urban agglomeration can proceed at the same or faster pace than adoption of emissions control technology. Optimal control of emissions from mobile sources is closely related to not only how consumers choose transportation modes, brands of their choice, and driving distances, but also how they choose employment and housing locations (or how businesses choose their business and target customer locations). Optimal designs of emissions control policies must then be linked to transportation policies and labor policies.

Consumer choices under uncertainty about environmental and health risk

Consumers are exposed to a variety of environmental and health risks, such as those associated with water pollutants, air pollutants, daily food consumption, smoking, and natural disasters. The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 made all of us recognize the significance of a catastrophic risk that happens only with a miniscule probability. At heart of it is the difficulty consumers face in evaluating risks (i.e., the likelihood and severity of adverse environmental and health consequences) and making relevant actions agains them (including self-protection, self-insurance, adaptation/mitigation, and voting and lobbying for certain policies). My research is aimed at empirically identifying the effects of risk information on consumer choices under a variety of risk contexts.

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