Simon Fan contributes theoretical and empirical research in social economics, labor/population economics, development economics, and public economics. He has punished two scholarly books and over forty papers in refereed journals. He is also a recipient of several competitive grants that conduct experimental research on education, particularly on the “left-behind” children in rural China. In 2014, he published a thought-provoking book, “Vanity Economics: An Economic Exploration of Sex, Marriage and Family”. This book analyzes the role of “vanity”, defined as social status and self-esteem, in social and economic behaviors. In Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption, vanity is associated with the consumption of luxuries such as expensive handbags and cars. This book argues that vanity is obtained by having a spouse and children with perceived “high-quality” values, which helps to understand male–female relationships and intergenerational relationships. (A synopsis of the book is here.) This book is recently reviewed in the Journal of Economic Literature. In 2015, he finished another ambitious book, “Culture, Institution, and Development in China: The Economics of National Character” (forthcoming, Routledge). This book demonstrates the endogenous evolution of “national character” (i.e. “the average personality” of a country’s people) along with the changing institutional environments by applying the “political Coase theorem” and other economic theories. (A synopsis of the book is here: English and Chinese.) Recognizing the unique role of the “national character” in violence, international conflicts, and social order, the book analyses the relationship between culture, institution, “national character”, and development, which sheds light on the monumental transformation of China. Simon is now working on his third book concerning the economics of social status and culture. This book investigates nationalism in historical and contemporary China by regarding national pride as a collective social status.
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C. Simon Fan
BSc, MSc (Xiamen); MA, PhD (Brown)
Department of Economics, Lingnan University
Professor FAN, Cheng-ze Simon