Sheng-Jun Xu

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This student profile has been archived and is no longer being updated.

Political incentives and distorted funding policies of public-sector defined benefits pension plans.
Professors Hernan Ortiz-Molina, Elena Simintzi, Robert Heinkel, and Ralph Winter

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I wanted a career that was about using big ideas to solve big problems. Pursuing a graduate degree and a career in academic research was the natural choice.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I chose UBC because of its sterling reputation for research in finance and its location in the beautiful city of Vancouver. The faculty here is supportive and open to collaboration, a fact that I discovered during my one year in the Finance M.Sc. program. UBC is also unique in playing host to annual finance conferences attended by some of the top academics from across North America.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The best surprise for me has been living at St. John's College, a graduate residence on campus with an international focus. It provided me the chance to get to meet and learn from fellow graduate students from an incredibly diverse range of disciplinary and geographic backgrounds.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

Given the purported crisis over underfunded state pension plans in the U.S., I believe it is extremely important to understand the economic and political factors that determine pension funding policy. With my research, I hope to provide convincing empirical evidence that distortionary political forces play a significant role in shaping public pension policies.

What has winning a major award meant to you?

The award is an encouraging sign that my research is meaningful to society, and of course provides added financial security that allows me to better focus on research.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

It can be difficult at times, but try to maintain some semblance of balance, both physically and intellectually. Take advantage of Vancouver's scenic outdoors, and allow your fellow students from different fields to provide you with alternate perspectives on both your own research and the world at large.