QMSA Thesis Projects – 2019 Cohort

Ha Joon Chung

“Reanalyzing the Cultural Capital in Education”

The aim of the paper was to revisit the effect of cultural capital on student’s educational attainment by addressing the problem of inconsistent operationalization and measurement of the previous literature with an alternate measuring scheme. It also utilized the HLM to explore the mechanism of the cultural capital effect.

Troy Durie

“Elasticity Effects in Free Trade Agreements”

This paper analyzes two Free Trade Agreements, China—New Zealand 2008 and Japan—Switzerland 2009, to measure the trade creation versus the trade diversion from tariff reductions for different goods based on their elasticity. The methodology applies the gravity model to hierarchical linear modeling. Tariff reduction leads to similar trade creation or trade diversion for goods within their country pair regardless of their elasticity.


Ruinan Liu

“CEO Duality and Firm Performance under Endogeneity”

This paper intends to lay out a framework to identify self-selection bias and how it can be used practically to analyze CEO duality in the field of corporate governance. Prior literature about agency theory and stewardship theory have argued extensively in this topic yet most of them treat duality as an exogenous variable. 

Read the full details here

Shan Shan

“The Case of Hexi Corridor: Military Agricultural Colonization and Ecological Change in Han Dynasty”

This MA thesis examines response scale usage in self-report ratings of emotions. Self-report surveys have been widely used to assess human emotions. However, as shown in previous literature, people’s responses to survey questions may be influenced by factors irrelevant to the content of questions. Response scale usage, which refers to people’s tendency to rate scale measures in a systematic way unrelated to the content of questions, is one of the crucial factors. This project focuses on detecting and correcting for this tendency in emotion measurement using model-based and measurement-based methods. 

Lucero Vargas

“The Effect of Non-cognitive Skills on Academic Performance: Evidence from Mexico”

Using data from a representative sample of 12th-grade students in Mexico, I studied the relationship between socio-emotional skills (also called non-cognitive skills) and academic performance across socioeconomic levels. The main findings suggest that students from lower socioeconomic levels were less likely to report high levels of socio-emotional skills compared to those students from higher SES. However, those students who report high socio-emotional skills score similar proficiency levels in mathematics and reading than their more economically advantaged peers, suggesting that socio-emotional skills may temper the effects of economic disadvantages on students’ academic performance.


Steve Kim

“Outsider Entry Under Runoff Elections: Theoretical Support for Duverger’s Hypothesis”

The paper explores a political outsider’s incentive to enter an election and identifies when a political outsider prefers a third-party challenge to a primary challenge. Solving the game shows that a third-party challenge always yields a higher prospect of winning than a primary challenge. The solution in turn lends theoretical support to runoff voting favoring multiparty systems over two-party systems.