Yue Hou

Assistant Professor | Political Science

Dr. Yue Hou is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also affiliated with Penn’s Center for the Study of Contemporary China and Penn Identity and Conflict Lab. Her research interests include political economy and authoritarian politics, with a regional focus on China. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Politics, Journal of Experimental Political Science, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Journal of Comparative Economics, and China Leadership Monitor, and has been featured in the New York Times, the Economist, and Boston Review.

Her first book, the Private Sector in Public Office: Selective Property Rights in China (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics, Cambridge University Press, 2019), addresses the long-standing puzzle of how China’s private sector manages to grow without secure property rights. She also writes articles for Chinese media outlets including the Southern Weekly and Tencent press. She received her PhD in Political Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and BA in Economics and Mathematics from Grinnell College.

Selected Publications

Yue HouPeichun Wang

(September 2020). Unpolluted decisions: Air quality and judicial outcomes in China. Economics Letters, 194, 109369.

Judicial outcomes should not be influenced by factors that have no bearing on legal decisions, but studies have shown that judges can be affected by extraneous variables such as weather, sports events, and food consumption. Employing the universe of drug offense court decisions in five major Chinese cities between 2014 and 2015, we study whether air pollution and temperature affect sentencing outcomes in China, where air pollution is severe and judges have considerable discretion in sentencing drug cases.

We find that Chinese criminal judges are not at all affected by pollution or temperature changes. One standard deviation change in air pollutant PM2.5 level may change the sentence length by no more than 2% of its standard deviation with over 95% probability. Further analysis shows that our results are robust to a variety of specifications and a battery of robustness checks.

Our findings suggest that judicial rulings are not always swayed by extraneous factors, and we discuss conditions under which public officials are more likely to be shielded from these non-legal factors.

Yue HouChuyu LiuCharles Crabtree

(June 2020). Anti-muslim bias in the Chinese labor market. Journal of Comparative Economics. 48(2), 235-250.

Is there a Muslim disadvantage in economic integration to the Chinese economy? Do political mandates from the government help reduce disparities? To answer these questions, we conducted a large-scale audit study and submitted over 4,000 fictitious resumes to job advertisements for accounting and administrative positions posted by private firms, state-owned firms, and foreign firms.

We randomized the ethnic identities of job applicants, their academic merits, and requested salaries. Our results show that a Muslim job seeker is at least 50 percent less likely to receive a callback than a Han job seeker, and higher academic merit does not compensate for this bias.

Importantly, we find that state-owned enterprises are equally likely to discriminate against Muslim job seekers, despite their political mandate to increase diversity. Interview evidence suggests that besides outright hostility towards outgroups, there exist operational costs to diversity-related to building infrastructure that accommodates religious and cultural needs.