I did not formally enroll in either high school or college. Prior to entering graduate school, I completed most of my high school and college courses through independent study; this included economics, calculus, linear algebra, probability theory, statistics, English, and ancient Chinese literature, among others.
I was born in 1978 and grew up in a small village in Hunan, which is an inland Chinese province. In 1990, I entered the No. 1 Middle School in Xiangxiang City after having completed primary school in the village. However, family budget constraints proved an obstruction. After graduating from middle school in 1993, I chose to study in a technical school (zhong zhuan), the Yiyang Marketing School (gong xiao), rather than in a regular high school. At age 18, I began working as a salesman for a state-owned beer enterprise, the Xiangxiang Beer Co. Ltd., in my hometown. I won the Distinguished Employee award in 1996 and 1997, and continued selling beer for the company for the next few years. Finally, in 2002, I resigned.
During most of my years in technical school and throughout my tenure as a salesman, I registered for the National Self-Taught Higher Education Examinations. I bought textbooks, studied during my free time, and took examinations twice a year at weekends. With years of self-study, I managed to obtain an associate college diploma (da zhuan wen ping) in 1997. Four years later, in 2001, I received my college diploma (ben ke wen ping). I do not, however, have a bachelor’s degree. In both cases, I majored in marketing.
Subsequently, I took the National Post-graduate Entrance Examination. I passed and enrolled in the School of Economics at Zhejiang University as a full-time postgraduate student in 2002. After obtaining an M.A. in economics in 2005, I continued to pursue my M.Phil. and Ph.D. in economics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and received these degrees in 2007 and 2011, respectively.
I was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago from 2011 to 2014, where I was jointly sponsored by two Nobel Prize laureates, Professors James J. Heckman and Gary S. Becker. Since 2014, I have been an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the National University of Singapore.
My research focuses on Medical and Health Economics, Labor and Demographic Economics, Economic Development, Chinese and Asian Economies, Economics of Human Capital, Education, Household Behavior and Family Economics, Behavioral Economics, and Applied Econometrics