Nicola Bianchi, Yi Lu, Hong Song, 27 March 2021

In most countries, there tends to be a large gap between urban and rural education outcomes. This column examines the impact of a 2004 Chinese education reform that connected high-quality teachers in urban areas with more than 100 million students in rural primary and middle schools through the use of satellite internet. Exposure to the reform in middle school significantly increased students’ academic achievement and their labour outcomes in the long run, suggesting that technology can be an effective way to close the rural–urban gap in education.

Samuel Delpeuch, Etienne Fize, Philippe Martin, 12 February 2021

How much can trade imbalances account for the rise in protectionism of the past ten years? This column reveals that both bilateral and multilateral trade imbalances are strong predictors of protectionist attacks, partly – but not entirely – driven by the US and the Trump years. Moreover, countries with more expansionary fiscal policies react to the ensuing trade imbalance by a more protectionist trade policy. A transatlantic gap in the fiscal response to the COVID crisis may therefore pave the way to renewed trade tensions.

Martin Ravallion, 04 February 2021

The extraordinary reduction in poverty that China underwent after 1980 is often attributed to the pro-market reforms of Deng Xiaoping. This column uses counterfactual analysis – comparing China’s development to neighbouring countries with similar cultures and strong historical ties – to propose a new perspective. When judged against the development of South Korea and Taiwan, the bulk of China’s progress since the reforms began seems mostly a matter of making up for the failures of the preceding 30 years, when Maoist policies left an extra quarter of the Chinese population in poverty.

Chad Bown, Paola Conconi, Aksel Erbahar, Lorenzo Trimarchi, 03 February 2021

In a world in which production processes are fragmented across countries, the effects of tariffs propagate along supply chains, with firms in downstream industries suffering from protection upstream.  This column studies the effects of US antidumping duties applied against China – its most frequent target – over 1988-2016 on US firms in downstream sectors. It finds that tariffs have large negative effects on downstream industries, increasing production costs and decreasing employment, wages, sales, and investment.

Felix Friedt, 17 January 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused one of the most severe contractions in international trade since the Great Trade Collapse, leading to comparisons between the two episodes. While the Great Trade Collapse has been clearly linked to the collapse in international demand, this column argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to impact trade through multiple transmission channels, highlighting the role of global value chains in the transmission. Commercial policy responses to bolster the global economy must, therefore, deviate from demand-centred instruments and consider the dependence on and resilience of global value chains to address the triple pandemic effect.

Adnan Seric, Holger Görg, Wan-Hsin Liu, Michael Windisch, 07 January 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of the global trade network underpinning global value chains. Initial disruptions in the supply chains for key medical goods due to surges in demand and newly erected trade barriers have prompted policymakers around the world to question their country’s reliance on foreign suppliers and international production networks. This column takes a closer look at China’s post-pandemic recovery and argues that its response may hold clues to the future of global value chains.

Kerem Cosar, Benjamin Thomas, 04 January 2021

Open oceans are vital for the transport of a large share of world trade. But they are also frequently at the centre of geopolitical tensions between nation states. This column estimates the economic costs of impeded shipping access in South East Asia. The results of the study suggest that restrictions to shipping due to military sanctions could have large negative effects on economic welfare for countries all over the world, including oil exporters such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Alison Booth, Xin Meng, Jilu Zhang, 13 December 2020

Rural-urban migrant workers in China often do not receive the same benefits at the workplace as their urban counterparts. This column uses a rich longitudinal survey to study the effects of union presence on the welfare of migrant workers. It finds that relative to workplaces without unions or with inactive unions, union-covered non-members and union members in places with active unions earn higher incomes and receive better benefits and insurances. In addition, there is a notable premium for union members compared with union-covered non-members, particularly on wages. 

Anirudh Shingal, Prachi Agarwal, 08 December 2020

International health crises have the ability to send shockwaves through global value chains. This column examines how value chains have responded to two previous health shocks – SARS and MERS – in order to draw lessons for the current pandemic. There is evidence of geographical diversification within value chains, as well as of an overall non-resilience to the SARS epidemic in particular. The effects are driven by lower-middle-income importers that were more integrated in global value chains, received more investment, were more competitive, and were more reliant on the severely affected partners. Similar disruptions are likely to follow Covid-19.

Peter Egger, Gabriel Loumeau, Nicole Loumeau, 03 November 2020

China’s transport infrastructure network has experienced unprecedented growth, both in terms of length and quality, in the last two decades. Using hand-collected and digitised data on the Chinese road and railway networks over time, this column discusses the magnitude and the long-run consequences of the country’s transport infrastructure changes. It finds that increased network centrality fosters regional convergence in population and, to a lesser extent, in real per-capita incomes. Facilitated goods transport and increased technology diffusion contribute the lion’s share of these effects.

Alexander Chudik, Kamiar Mohaddes, M. Hashem Pesaran, Mehdi Raissi, Alessandro Rebucci, 19 October 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented in its global reach and impact, posing formidable challenges to policymakers and to the empirical analysis of its direct and indirect effects within the interconnected global economy. This column uses a ‘threshold-augmented multi-country econometric model’ to help quantify the impact of the Covid-19 shock along several dimensions. The results of the analysis show that the global recession will be long lasting, with no country escaping its impact regardless of their mitigation strategy. These findings call for a coordinated multi-country policy response to the pandemic.

Ufuk Akcigit, Sina T. Ates, Josh Lerner, Richard Townsend, Yulia Zhestkova, 24 September 2020

The US military community has highlighted the potential security threat posed by foreign venture investments in Silicon Valley, particularly from Chinese stakeholders. This column presents a theoretical and empirical analysis of the relationship between venture capital and national security, focusing on the ability of overseas firms to gain a domestic technological advantage through investing in the US tech sector. The growing importance of this the technology sector, as well as the national security issues at stake, mean that understanding the correlations is a vital avenue of future research.

Saleem Bahaj, Ricardo Reis, 21 September 2020

Only a handful of currencies are regularly used for cross-border payments, with the US dollar dominating almost any measure of international use. This column analyses the preconditions for a currency to achieve international status and asks whether government policies can assist in this process. Theoretically, it argues that international status depends on several thresholds, including a currency’s volatility, the size of the issuing country, and the borrowing costs involved. Empirically, it shows that swap line agreements signed by the People’s Bank of China significantly increase the likelihood of renminbi usage in the following months, signalling the effectiveness of this policy.

Benny Kleinman, Ernest Liu, Stephen Redding, 17 September 2020

The increasingly prominent role of China in the world economy has led to widespread discussions concerning the balance of power, trade relations, and economic development. This column presents a new ‘friends and enemies’ model which is used to show that significant growth and welfare effects have stemmed from China’s shifting role, and that changes in trading clusters have varied across different sectors. The findings also suggest that as countries become less economically friendly in terms of the welfare effects of their productivity growth, they also become less politically friendly in terms of foreign policy. 

Andreas Fuchs, Lennart Kaplan, Krisztina Kis-Katos, Sebastian S. Schmidt, Felix Turbanisch, Feicheng Wang, 16 September 2020

China assumed an important role during the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 as the main exporter of critical medical goods such as face masks and disinfectants. However, shipments of medical goods have been turned into propaganda campaigns by Chinese state media, raising the question if access to medical goods is granted upon political goodwill. This column uses official monthly trade data from Chinese Customs to investigate the emerging trade patterns, both for commercial exports and donations of medical goods. It shows that both existing trade linkages and political ties to Chinese provinces can help to attract Chinese medical goods.

James Heckman, Bei Liu, Mai Lu, Jin Zhou, 21 August 2020

Research has shown that home visiting programmes are effective and relatively low cost compared to other early childhood programmes. This column evaluates the impacts of one such programme targeted at left-behind children in rural China, based on the influential Jamaica Reach Up and Learn programme. The programme substantially improves child language, cognitive, fine motor, and socioemotional skills, with 90% of these gains come from boosting child skills, and the rest coming from improving the utilisation of existing skills. Growth profiles reveal that China REACH is on track to reach or exceed the growth profiles of the highly successful Jamaica Reach Up programme.

Bo Li, Jacopo Ponticelli, 06 August 2020

The lack of an efficient and independent judicial system can impede economic development by negatively affecting firms’ ability to invest, innovate, and reallocate capital towards more productive projects. This is indeed a concern for China. This column exploits the introduction of specialised bankruptcy courts in different Chinese cities between 2007 and 2017 to examine its effects on the local economy. Specialisation leads to faster resolution of bankruptcy cases, especially for state-owned firms. It also increased local firms’ average product of capital and decreased the share of labour employed in zombie-intensive industries compared to cities where insolvency is still resolved exclusively by civil courts.

Robert Feenstra, Chang Hong, 25 July 2020

In December 2019, the US and China reached a Phase One agreement, which mandates China to purchase additional imports from the US worth $200 billion in 2020 and 2021. This column shows that the most efficient way for China to increase imports from the US is to mimic the effects of an import subsidy. For agricultural products, this subsidy would need to be as high as 42% for 2020 and 59% for 2021 in order to meet the target. Such subsidies would divert agricultural imports away from other countries, especially decreasing Chinas imports from Australia and Canada.

Michèle Belot, Syngjoo Choi, Egon Tripodi, Eline van den Broek-Altenburg, Julian C. Jamison, Nicholas W. Papageorge, 24 July 2020

Almost all countries in the world have implemented drastic measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. This column documents the effects of the epidemic and containment measures using representative individual data on age and income from three Western and three Asian countries. Younger groups in all countries have been affected more, both economically and non-economically. Differences across income groups are less clear and less consistent across countries. The young are less compliant and supportive of the containment measures, no matter how hard they have been affected by them.

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