Fernando Plascencia and Ziye Zhang: State Preferences and Well-Being in Risky Environments: The Drug War in Mexico; and Behind the Transaction Figures — Behavioral Insights from a Housing Consumer Survey in Beijing

Fernando Plascencia: Plascencia works in the areas of behavioral economics and network theory. His current research includes understanding how people's ego network and well-being preferences are related in risky/non-risky environments. By using computational models and experimental methods of subjective well-being (such as happiness and life satisfaction), his research will provide a better understanding of well-being preferences. Related to this experimental approach, he uses network topology and the dynamics of social interaction to address how these well-being preferences emerge from people. The results of this research will contribute to guiding and evaluating policies. He is a member of the Social Dynamics Laboratory at Cornell.

"State Preferences and Well-Being in Risky Environments: The Drug War in Mexico": Current literature suggests that it takes more than one agent (i.e., a threat to life) to provoke psychopathology. By using an online experimental survey anchored on state preferences, the present research tracks people's well-being choices in risky environments — specifically, the drug war in Mexico. The impact on mental health of the civilian population of this phenomenon is one of the most significant. Research finds a particular set of well-being aspects preferred by 1,850 respondent residents in violent and non-violent cities. Such sets of preferences suggest an earlier diagnostic of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) due to violence, anxiety, and depression supported by negative emotions of the drug war in Mexico.

Ziye Zhang: Zhang's research focuses on housing markets and consumer behavior. His current interest is in explaining the housing price spatial-temporal dynamic from the perspective of household behavior, integrating theories and methodologies from microeconomics, location theory, spatial econometrics, and agent-based modeling. He is also interested in employing qualitative methods to explore the behavioral insights of household decision making. Before coming to Cornell, he received his master's degree in regional economics and bachelor's degree in public policy from Peking University in China.

"Behind the Transaction Figures — Behavioral Insights from a Housing Consumer Survey in Beijing": In the past decade, the housing market in Beijing has been experiencing an unprecedented housing transaction boom along with explosive housing price growth. This study aims to investigate micro-level choice behaviors of housing consumers with this background. A housing consumer survey was designed and conducted in Beijing from July to August 2016, focusing on the information about initial motives of housing consumption, consideration sets, and determinant factors of the final choice. More than 1,350 interviewees were spatial-proportionally sampled in eight districts of Beijing, including six central districts and two outer districts. The findings of this survey provide insights and evidence for modeling the heterogeneity of housing consumers and bottom-up behavioral theories. Descriptive analysis of current findings will be introduced and further applications to discrete choice model and agent-based modeling will also be demonstrated and discussed.