Mingli Zhong

Mingli Zhong
  • Ph.D. Candidate in Economics

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3733 Spruce Street, 300 Vance Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6302

Research Interests: Public Economics, Household Economics, Behavioral Economics

Links: CV

Overview

Mingli’s research seeks to understand the wealth and welfare consequences of retirement saving policies. Well-designed retirement saving policies can help individuals allocate their personal wealth optimally over their life cycles and enhance the efficiency of redistributive programs.

Her current project analyzes state-sponsored automatic enrollment retirement plans where employers are required to automatically enroll their workers in a state-based saving plans unless the employees wish to opt out. She uses individual-level administrative and survey data from the OregonSaves program, the first state-sponsored mandatory auto-enrollment plan in the U.S., to evaluate key outcomes. To explore the welfare impacts of such an auto-enrollment regime, she has developed a sufficient statistics framework to map empirical evidence directly to welfare results. This analysis also incorporates the crowd-out effect between retirement savings and means-tested social benefits.

In one of her ongoing projects, she and co-authors examine whether increased savings in auto-enrollment plans for the liquidity-constrained are offset by debt. They are working to merge OregonSaves savings data with individual-level debt information from a credit bureau agency. With this information, they will analyze saving and borrowing behavior for OregonSaves-eligible workers.

Beyond her current projects, she intends to continue contributing to the retirement savings and social insurance literature. she plans to incorporate Social Security in a unified and tractable welfare framework for analyzing optimal default retirement saving policies and social insurance policies. By taking into account retirement income sources from private savings in auto-enrollment retirement plans, means-tested social transfers, and Social Security, she will provide direct policy guidance on coordinating across public policies to strengthen personal retirement security and improve redistribution.

Education:

B.S., Applied Mathematics, University of Rochester, 2013

B.A., Economics, University of Rochester, 2013

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Research

  • Mingli Zhong (Working), Optimal Default Retirement Saving Policies: Theory and Evidence from OregonSaves (Job Market Paper).

    Abstract: Many U.S. states are launching state-sponsored auto-enrollment retirement plans, with the goal of boosting retirement savings among private-sector workers lacking access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. This paper provides an analysis of state-sponsored auto-enrollment plans, and specifically, the plan's default contribution rate. We develop a tractable framework to derive the optimal default contribution rate taking into account workers' decisions on adhering to the default contribution rate. The optimal default contribution rate is shaped by the social benefits of increased savings due to adherence to the default that keeps workers from undersaving, while reducing reliance on means-tested social transfers. The optimal default contribution rate is also counterbalanced by the social benefits of action when an undesirable default option compels workers to make an active decision. To estimate these counterbalancing social welfare forces, we use individual-level administrative and survey data from OregonSaves, the state-sponsored plan offered by the Oregon state government, and suggest the optimal default contribution rate to be 8%.

  • John Chalmers, Olivia S. Mitchell, Jonathan Reuter, Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, Mingli Zhong, Auto-Enrollment Retirement Plans for the People: Choices and Outcomes in OregonSaves.

  • Mingli Zhong, Unemployment Insurance, Moral Hazard, and Age Discrimination in the Labor Market.

    Abstract: This paper investigates whether the effect of unemployment insurance benefits on unemployment duration varies by age over the business cycle. When tested individually, the unemployment durations of younger workers are significantly raised by the same level of increase in UI benefits more in a boom than in a recession, while those of older workers are equally affected over the business cycle. This difference between age groups is \textit{not} significant when tested as an interaction effect in a more stringent regression model. Similarly, we also find that the age effect reported in previous study is non-significant when subjected to the same procedure of regression analysis. The current findings suggest that incorporating age into the design of UI benefits should require further study and more credible evidence.

Teaching

Past Courses

  • BEPP250 - MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS

    This course will introduce you to "managerial economics" which is the application of microeconomic theory to managerial decision-making. Microeconomic theory is a remarkably useful body of ideas for understanding and analyzing the behavior of individuals and firms in a variety of economic settings. The goal of the course is for you to understand this body of theory well enough so that you can effectively analyze managerial (and other) problems in an economic framework. While this is a "tools" course, we will cover many real-world applications, particularly business applications, so that you can witness the usefulness of these tools and acquire the skills to use them yourself. We will depart from the usual microeconomic theory course by giving more emphasis to prescription: What should a manager do in order to achieve some objective? That course deliverable is to compare with description: Why do firms and consumers act the way they do? The latter will still be quite prominent in this course because only by understanding how other firms and customers behave can a manager determine what is beswt for him or her to do. Strategic interaction is explored both in product markets and auctions. Finally, the challenges created by asymmetric information - both in the market and within the firm - are investigated.

  • BEPP950 - MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS

    Public goods, externalities, uncertainty, and income redistribution as sources of market failures; private market and collective choice models as possible correcting mechanisms. Microeconomic theories of taxation and public sector expenditures. The administration and organization of the public sector.

Awards and Honors

  • Dissertation Fellowship from the Social Security Administration and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 2019
  • Robert R. Nathan Fellowship, 2019
  • “OregonSaves – An Analysis of Participating in State-Sponsored Retirement Plans”, Grant from U.S. Social Security Administration, 2019
  • “The Effect of Default Retirement Savings on Credit Scores”, Grant from Wharton’s Boettner Center/Pension Research Council, 2019
  • “Phase II Survey Incentives for the OregonSaves Project”, Grant from AARP, 2018
  • “Understanding Retirement Plan Default Behavior: The Case of OregonSaves”, Grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2018
  • “Understanding Retirement Plan Default Behavior”, Grant from Wharton’s Boettner Center/Pension Research Council, 2017
  • Wharton Risk Center Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship, 2016
  • Bradley Foundation Fellowship, 2015

In the News

  • “Auto-Enrollment Retirement Plans for the People: Choices and Outcomes in OregonSaves”, 21st Annual Social Security Administration Research Consortium Meeting at the National Press Club - 08/02/2019

Activity

Latest Research

Mingli Zhong (Working), Optimal Default Retirement Saving Policies: Theory and Evidence from OregonSaves (Job Market Paper).
All Research

In the News

“Auto-Enrollment Retirement Plans for the People: Choices and Outcomes in OregonSaves”
21st Annual Social Security Administration Research Consortium Meeting at the National Press Club - 08/02/2019
All News

Awards and Honors

Dissertation Fellowship from the Social Security Administration and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College 2019
All Awards