Cornell University TREESPEAR Graduate Research Associate Shuyang Si was awarded the 2020 Cornell Dyson Graduate Student -- Research Excellence Award for his research on food, energy, and the environment.
Food safety is a major global public health issue, and is particularly important in heavily populated countries such as China, where rapid industrialization and modernization are having profound effects on food safety. In a paper on food safety and restaurant food, Shuyang analyzes the effects of media and policy events regarding food safety on the supply and demand for restaurant food in China. The food safety-related media and policy event he examines is a media and policy event regarding Zombie meat that took place in China in 2015. 'Zombie meat' is frozen meat that has been frozen for decades and is therefore beyond its expiration date.
Shuyang applies a regression discontinuity approach to a unique daily spatially-disaggregated order-level restaurant dataset of 1.6 million dining orders of 1,215 different dishes placed in 58 restaurants across multiple cities in China. Results suggest that customers who ordered meat dishes following the Zombie meat event tended to order more expensive meat dishes, perhaps because they viewed these more expensive dishes as having higher quality and more fresh meat. He supplements his analysis with an empirical model of consumer demand, and similarly find that after the Zombie meat event, consumers in Beijing and Tianjin were more likely to buy more expensive pork dishes.
Shuyang's result that customers who ordered meat following the Zombie meat event tended to order more expensive meat dishes, perhaps because they viewed these more expensive dishes as having higher quality and more fresh meat, suggests that a possible means by which restaurants can weather food safety crises is to offer high quality dishes and to establish and maintain a reputation for quality. His research will help policymakers assess the benefits of implementing future preventive food safety and sanitation policies, and will help restaurant firms make more informed decisions about voluntarily implementing stricter food safety systems in their operations.
Shuyang also has a paper that was published in Energy Economics (a top journal in energy economics) and that was featured in the Cornell Chronicle and the Cornell Daily Sun. In this paper, Shuyang analyzes the effects of environmental and energy policies in China on energy consumption in China. In many developing countries such as China, energy consumption has been increasing rapidly, resulting in energy-related problems such as power shortages and environmental pollution. For this project, Shuyang constructed a novel and comprehensive data set on all the energy and environmental policies at the provincial level in China over the time period 2002 to 2013. There were 2,656 province-level laws and regulations related to energy and the environment during the time period 2002 to 2013. According to the results of Shuyang's econometric analysis, some types of energy-related policies have been effective in reducing energy consumption. Nevertheless, many other policies have the possibly unintended or even perverse consequence of increasing rather than decreasing energy consumption. Shuyang's results on the mixed effectiveness of energy-related policies in China in reducing energy consumption have important implications for the design of energy-related policies in China and elsewhere.
In another paper that was published in Energy Economics (a top journal in energy economics) and that was also featured in the Cornell Chronicle, Shuyang analyzes the effects of environmental policies in China on GDP, industrial output, and new energy sector profits. Critics of environmental policies often claim that such policies decrease productivity and profits. The effects of environmental policies on productivity, GDP, output, and profits is in part an empirical question, however, and may vary by firm, industry, sector, and type of policy. Using province-level panel data over the period 2002 to 2013 and instruments to address the potential endogeneity of the policies, Shuyang finds that policies involving financial incentives or monetary awards have the potential of increasing the output and/or profits in some energy-related industries or sectors, but potentially at the cost of GDP in non-energy industries or sectors. In contrast, command and control policies and non-monetary awards appear to decrease GDP, output, and/or profits.
Shuyang has won several prestigious awards and honors for his research. In addition to the 2020 Cornell Dyson Graduate Student -- Research Excellence Award, Shuyang has also been awarded a Cornell University Aplin Endowment Summer Fellowship; a UC-Davis Fellowship for Excellence in Graduate Research; and the 2017 Exxon-Mobil ITS-Davis Corporate Affiliate Fellowship. In addition, he was a member of a team that was awarded Third place at The Data Open at Cornell Datathon Competition presented by Citadel and Citadel Securities in October 2019.
Shuyang has presented his research to diverse academic and non-academic audiences, including at the Business of Food Annual Meeting at the Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business; at the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Workshop in Sustainable Development (IPWSD) at Columbia University; at the Northeast Agricultural and Resource Economics Association (NAREA) Annual Meeting; and at the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB).
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