Le Wang is Chong K. Liew Chair Professor and Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Oklahoma. He currently serves as an Associate Editor of Econometric Reviews and Editorial Member of Journal of Labor Research. He also holds a special term professorship at Jinan University. Prior to joining OU, he has held positions at the University of Alabama, the University of New Hampshire, and University of Minnesota. He was also a Women and Public Policy Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. He received his Ph.D in Economics from Southern Methodist University in 2006 and his B.A. in International Finance from Jinan University, Guangzhou, China in 2001.

His research focuses on questions in the subfields of microeconomics -- labor and demographic economics, development economics and public economics -- with a particular emphasis on the development and use of distributional/nonparametric and program evaluation methods to address issues in these areas. Specifically, he has written papers examining the returns to education in U.S. and China, the returns to language skills among immigrants, the gender earnings gap, and marriages and fertility issues. He has also written papers on politicians’ behavior, health care expenditure, and growth convergence. His work has been published in journals such as Journal of Econometrics, Econometrics Journal, Economics of Education Review, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Health Economics, Industrial Relations, and Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

He joined IZA as a Research Fellow in October 2011.



IZA Discussion Paper No. 11058
forthcoming in: Journal of Population Economics, 2017

The use of informal job search method is prevalent in many countries. There is, however, no consensus in the literature on whether it actually matters for wages, and if it does, what are the underlying mechanisms. We empirically examine these issues specifically for rural migrants in urban China, a country...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10747
Published in: Journal of Labor Research, 2017, 38(3), 261–282 |

This note takes a first look at the distribution of returns to education for people with disabilities, a particularly disadvantaged group whose labor market performances have not been well studied or documented. Using a nonparametric approach, we uncover significant heterogeneity in the returns to education for these workers, which is...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10076
published in: Applied Economics, 2017, 49(12), 1164-1184

We examine the educational production function and efficiency of public school districts in Illinois. Using nonparametric kernel methods, we find that most traditional schooling inputs are irrelevant in determining test scores (even in a very general setting). Property tax caps are the only relevant factor that is related to districts'...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 8771
published in: Economics Letters, 2015, 128, 17-20

We examine the (potentially nonlinear) relationship between inequality and growth using a method which does not require an a priori assumption on the underlying functional form. This approach reveals a plateau completely missed by commonly used (nonlinear) parametric approaches - the economy first expands rapidly with a large decline in...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 7103
published in: Labour Economics, 2013, 21, 74-85

The literature estimating returns to education has often utilized spousal education and parental education as instrument variables (IV). However, due to usual survey designs, both IVs are available only for the individuals whose spouse or parents are present in the same household. The IV estimates based on these selective sub-samples...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 6173
published online in: Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 2012, [Early View]

China's phenomenal growth is accompanied by both relatively low level of standards of living and high inequality. It is widely believe that investing in education could be an effective strategy to promote higher standards of living as well as to reduce inequality. However, little is known about whether this belief...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 5662
published in: Economics of Education Review, 2011, 30 (6), 1202-1214

This paper relaxes the assumption of homogeneous rates of return to schooling by employing nonparametric kernel regression. This approach allows us to examine the differences in rates of return to education both across and within groups. Similar to previous studies we find that on average blacks have higher returns to...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 4078
published in: Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2011, 60 (1), 155-195

Although the theoretical trade-off between the quantity and quality of children is well-established, empirical evidence supporting such a causal relationship − particularly on child health − is limited. We use two measures of child health to asses the quantity-quality trade-off across the entire distribution. Using data from the Indonesia Family...