Purdue University Graduate School
Dissertation_final.pdf (2.52 MB)

Essays on Labor Economics and International Trade

Download (2.52 MB)
posted on 2022-04-20, 19:33 authored by Danyang ZhangDanyang Zhang


My dissertation is composed of three independent chapters in the field of labor economics and international trade. 

The first chapter studies marriage market signaling and women’s occupation choice. Despite the general closure of gender disparities in the labor market over the past half century, occupational segregation has been stubbornly persistent. I develop a new model that explains these occupational outcomes through marriage market signaling. Vertically differentiated men have preference over women’s unobservable caregiving ability. Heterogenous women choose caregiving occupations to signal their ability to be caregivers. My model generates unique predictions on the influence of marriage market conditions on women’s occupational choices. I find empirical support for these predictions using longitudinal data on marriage rates, policy shocks to divorce laws, and shocks to the marriage market sex ratio driven by waves of immigration. 

The second chapter investigates Covid19 and consumer animus towards Chinese products. Covid19 has tremendously affected all areas of our lives and our online shopping behaviors have not been immune. China is the first country to report cases of Covid19 and suffers from rising animus in the U.S. In this paper, we study consumer animus towards Chinese products post Covid19 using Amazon data. We tracked all face masks sold on Amazon between Sep. 2019 to Sep. 2020, and collect product information that is available to a real consumer, including reviews. By analyzing both seller-generated (e.g., product name, description, features) and user-generated (e.g., reviews and customer Q&A) content, we collect information on the country-of-origin as well as consumer animus for the products. Under a fully-dynamic event study design, we find that the average rating drops significantly after a product is identified as made in China for the first time, while no such drop is found for products with other countries-of-origin. This negative impact is U-shaped, which quickly expands in the first five weeks, and then gradually fades out within six months. An informative-animus review affects the average rating of a Chinese product both directly (through its own rating) and indirectly (through other future ratings), with both mechanisms supported in data. We also provide strong evidence that the drop in average rating is driven by consumer animus instead of product quality. 

The third chapter explores how cultural transmission through international trade affects gender discrimination. In this paper, I propose that international trade helps alleviate gender discrimination. With imperfect information on workers’ ability, there is statistical discrimination towards female workers. Through international trade, culture transmits asymmetrically between firms located in countries with different gender cultures. This cultural transmission benefits women because it transmits only in one direction from more gender-equal cultures to less gender-equal cultures. I prove this by linking the Customs data to the Industrial Firms data of China in 2004, and find that Chinese firms trading with more gender-equal cultures hire a higher fraction of female workers and enjoy higher profits. Similar patterns are not found in Chinese firms trading with less gender-equal cultures. The impact of cultural transmission goes beyond the firms engaged in international trade to have spillover effects onto purely domestic firms. Comparing across skill groups, cultural transmission benefits high-skill female workers more.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Economics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Timothy Bond

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Chong Xiang

Additional Committee Member 2

Farid Farrokhi

Additional Committee Member 3

Miguel Sarzosa