Richard Freeman, Wei Huang, Teng Li, 07 May 2019

Incentive systems that pay workers bonuses based on performance targets are widely used to increase productivity, but they can incur costs to firms from workers gaming the system. This column studies the introduction of one such non-linear incentive system by a major Chinese insurance firm. It finds that the system increased productivity and lowered turnover rates sufficiently to outweigh the gaming costs, and appears to have benefitted both workers and the firm.

Wilko Bolt, Kostas Mavromatis, Sweder Van Wijnbergen, 25 April 2019

Increasing protectionism will slow down world trade and may dampen global economic growth. This column examines the global macroeconomic consequences of a major trade conflict between the US and China, and shows that the two countries would be the biggest losers from a 10% ‘tit-for-tat’ trade war between them. As long as it does not get involved in the conflict, the euro area may temporally gain from trade diversion, as competitiveness improves and imports from regions whose exports are blocked elsewhere become cheaper.

Thiemo Fetzer, Carlo Schwarz, 23 April 2019

Tariff retaliation is widely believed to be politically motivated. This column presents evidence that retaliation against the Trump administration's tariff hikes seems to be systematically targeted against the Republican voter base. China appears to have been able to achieve a high degree of political targeting but likely harmed its own economy by targeting agricultural goods for which the US is a major supplier. The EU, on the other hand, appears to be more successful in navigating the trade-off. It also finds some evidence suggesting that Republican candidates fared worse in the mid-term elections in the US counties most exposed to retaliation.

Cecilia Bellora, Lionel Fontagné, 22 April 2019

Since 2018, the US administration has implemented several measures limiting free trade with China and other countries. Using cross-country data and a general equilibrium model, this column argues that a trade war hurts not only the targeted countries but also the country imposing the tariffs. Global value chains prompt countries to decrease tariffs when the domestic content of foreign-produced final goods and the imported content of domestic production of final goods are high. Once imposed, tariffs have an indirect effect on third sectors and countries through global value chains.

David Weinstein, 19 April 2019

Has the trade war with China been good for American businesses and consumers? The first results are in, and David Weinstein tells Tim Phillips who the winners and losers are.


This call invites you to submit a paper or express your interest in attending the above Summer Institute, which will be hosted this year by Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, during 17 – 18 August 2019. The workshop intends to bring together the best scholars working on China in China, the US and Europe with other top level scholars who have an interest in working on China in the future. We welcome applications not only from those who want to present their research on China but also from anybody who has an interest in doing serious economic research on China and would like to use the workshop as means of exploring this possibility.

Please register online for possible presentation at the meeting or expressions of interest in attending the meeting by 6 May 2019.

Ann Harrison, Marshall W. Meyer, Will Wang, Linda Zhao, Minyuan Zhao, 07 April 2019

The conventional wisdom that privatisation of state-owned enterprises reduces their dependence on the state and yields positive economic benefits has not always been borne out by empirical work. Using a comprehensive dataset from China, this column shows that privatised SOEs continue to benefit from government support in the form of low-interest loans and subsidies relative to private enterprises that have never been state-owned. Although there are clear improvements in performance post-privatisation, privatised SOEs continue to significantly under-perform compared to private firms.

Alison Booth, Xin Meng, 25 March 2019

The literature examining the effect of conflict on trust and trustworthiness has reached contradictory conclusions. This column studies the long-term behavioural impact of the Cultural Revolution in China, which was a major in-group conflict. It finds that the children and grandchildren of those who were mentally or physically abused during the Revolution are less trusting, less trustworthy, and less likely to be competitively inclined relative to peers whose parents/grandparents experienced the Cultural Revolution but were not directly mistreated. 

Mengjia Ren, Lee Branstetter, Brian Kovak, Daniel Armanios, Jiahai Yuan, 16 March 2019

Despite leading the world in clean energy investment in recent years, China continues to engage in massive expansion of coal power thanks to policies that effectively subsidise and (over)incentivise coal power investment. This column examines the effects of the 2014 devolution of authority from the central government to local governments on approvals for coal power projects. It finds that the approval rate for coal power projects is about three times higher when the approval authority is decentralised, and provinces with larger coal industries tend to approve more coal power.

Harald Hau, Difei Ouyang, Weidi Yuan, 01 March 2019

Trade between the US and China is widely thought to have contributed significantly to the decline in US manufacturing employment between 1999 and 2007. Flipping the point of view, this column examines the impact on China of the growth in trade and finds that for every US manufacturing job lost, almost six new Chinese manufacturing jobs were created. International trade did not contribute to faster wage rises for Chinese industrial workers but instead channelled agricultural and non-participating workers into the industrial labour market. 

Antoine Berthou, Caroline Jardet, Daniele Siena, Urszula Szczerbowicz, 08 February 2019

Escalating tensions between the US and its trading partners have made a global trade war more likely. In addition to the direct effect due to the increase in tariffs, a trade war may also affect GDP via indirect channels, such as a drop in productivity due to uncertainty and changes in the production environment. Using a multi-country model, this column shows that a global and generalised 10 percentage point increase in tariffs could reduce the level of global GDP by almost 2.0% on impact and up to 3.0% after two years, when all the additional indirect channels materialise. 

Bruno S. Frey, 20 December 2018

China's GNP is close to, or larger than, that of the US and the per-capita income gap between the countries is closing. Despite this, Chinese economists are absent from the rankings of top academic economists and none has received the Nobel Prize in Economics. This column offers several potential reasons for this, and also argues that the situation is likely to change in the future. Young scholars in particular may be well advised to take this into account, as their careers are likely to benefit if they link up to the Chinese academic market.

Jing Cai, Yuyu Chen, Xuan Wang, 17 December 2018

R&D tax breaks are often offered to businesses to encourage innovation. This column uses evidence from a tax reform in China to study the relationship between tax enforcement and firm innovation. Lower taxes improve both the quantity and quality of firm innovation, and have a bigger impact on those firms that are either financially constrained or those that engage more in tax evasion. 

Haiyue Yu, Jin Cao, Shulong Kang, 13 December 2018

In a country where grandparents provide a significant amount of childcare, China’s plans to gradually delay retirement over the next few decades may significantly impact the labour supply and lifetime earnings of young women. Using the China Family Panel Studies survey data, this column demonstrates that the provision of grandparental childcare affects females’ income, in particular better-educated, urban females with younger children. An increase in public childcare subsidies may be required to complement the phasing-in of the retirement policy in China.

Hâle Utar, 06 December 2018

The impact of trade shocks on labour market shifts is usually studied in the context of re-training and social welfare frictions. Using evidence from Denmark, this column shows how workers can experience long-run reductions in earnings no matter how easy it is to change sector. A sudden and obligatory shift toward a new sector may, by its nature, generate some worker dissatisfaction.

Steven Brakman, Harry Garretsen, Tristan Kohl, 01 December 2018

Lixin Colin Xu, Li Yang, 11 November 2018

The Taiping Rebellion, from 1851 to 1864, was the deadliest civil war in history. This column provides evidence that this cataclysmic event significantly shaped China’s Malthusian transition and long-term development that followed, especially in areas where the experiences that stemmed from the rebellion led to better property rights, stronger local fiscal capacity, and rule by leaders with longer-term governance horizons.  

Guangyu Cao, Ginger Jin, Xi Weng, Li-An Zhou, 09 November 2018

Positive network effects may lead to winner-takes-all in some markets. The column analyses dockless bike-sharing in China to show instead how an incumbent can benefit from positive spillovers from a competitor’s entry. In the case of bike-sharing, consumers multi-home, the market exhibits positive network effects, and investment by two firms is more cost-efficient than investment by one. 

Harald Hau, Difei Ouyang, 26 October 2018

In the new century, China’s large economy features many local real estate booms originating in insufficient land supply. Using a panel of 900,000 Chinese manufacturing firm-year observations with matched firm locations, this column quantifies the causal effects of local real estate booms on local firms. It demonstrates how the diversion of local savings into the real estate sector in cities with real estate booms exerts a large toll on other local industries through higher costs of capital, underinvestment, real wage decreases, and industrial decline.

Gail Cohen, Prakash Loungani, 23 October 2018

At first glance, emissions and economic activity appear to be positively linked. This column refutes this by re-examining emissions and real GDP data using trend/cycle decompositions. The evidence clearly demonstrates decoupling of emissions and real GDP in many richer nations. Furthermore, although decoupling does not yet appear in emerging markets, data from China show that trend elasticities initially increase with per capita real GDP but then decline, thus holding out the hope that the relationship between emissions and GDP growth will weaken as emerging market countries get richer.



CEPR Policy Research