Ian Goldin, Pantelis Koutroumpis, François Lafond, Julian Winkler, 31 May 2021

Labour productivity is a key determinant in improving living standards. But in recent years, productivity has stagnated, if not declined, in many countries around the world. This column re-evaluates the various reasons as to why this might be, applying three criteria to the existing explanations for the slowdown. It finds that the slowdown in productivity can be attributed to numerous factors, ranging from mismeasurement to changes in trade patterns.

Chad Bown, 30 April 2021

If you had trouble in the last four years keeping up with what was happening in the trade war, you're not alone. Chad Bown tell Tim Phillips about his new paper that explains what happened, when, what it meant - and what happens next.

Petros C. Mavroidis, André Sapir, 30 April 2021

The ability of the WTO to shape the way China conducts its trade policy has been severely limited, and most attempts to leverage multilateral pressure have so far failed. This third in a series of three columns explores how the relationship could be reformed and improved going forward. The authors highlight the need for clearer guidelines on state-owned enterprises, as well as new rules surrounding the transfer of technology between signatories.

Petros C. Mavroidis, André Sapir, 29 April 2021

Having joined the WTO, many Western countries expected China to soon liberalise and become an open market economy. This second in a series of three columns describes how China has been able to shrug off pressures to change its economic structure and trading strategy, particularly regarding how its state-owned enterprises operate within the multilateral system.

Petros C. Mavroidis, André Sapir, 28 April 2021

China’s ascension to the WTO followed years of negotiations with the incumbent members and was hailed at the time as a victory for the liberal paradigm – part of the ‘end of history’. But today frictions remain. This first in a series of three columns presents the build-up to China joining the multilateral trade agreement, arguing that expectations for its subsequent behaviour were misguided from the off.

Robert Gilhooly, Carolina Martinez, Abigail Watt, 13 April 2021

Emerging markets will be shaped by the US and Chinese policy stances in 2021. This column considers how the latest US fiscal package will interact with China’s policy normalisation and concludes that while President Biden’s American Rescue Plan should dominate a less expansionary stance in China, the boost to the global economy will be much more modest than one would typically expect. Specifically, the normalisation of goods consumption in developed markets and less import-intensive Chinese growth will curtail global goods trade, a key determinant of emerging market growth.

Gaurav Khanna, Wenquan Liang, Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Ran Song, 08 April 2021

Why do workers remain in low-productivity areas when they could experience wage gains elsewhere? While the literature has proposed a few explanations, including the high cost and risky nature of migration, this column uses the case of China to examine instead the role that pollution plays. It finds that severe pollution can induce workers to relocate from productive to unproductive regions, suggesting that pollution control, coupled with policies facilitating migration, has the potential to bring about extra economic gains in developing countries.


The 14th China Economics Summer Institute (CESI) will be held online between 25-27 August 2021 by Tsinghua University. The objective of CESI is to create a network and community of top level scholars working on Chinese economic development (working papers of previous CESI available at http://cesi.econ.cuhk.edu.hk/). This initiative is currently co-sponsored by the Chinese University of Hong Kong – Tsinghua University Joint Research Center for Chinese Economy, the Institute for Emerging Market Studies at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, the Stanford King Center on Global Development at Stanford University, and the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University. The Summer Institute is organized in collaboration with the BREAD, NBER and CEPR networks of academic economists.
This call invites you to submit a paper or express your interest in attending the above Summer Institute, which will be hosted online this year by Tsinghua University, during 25-27 August 2021. 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.
During the workshop for a period of three days, there will be seminar presentations. Senior scholars who will attend will be available for consultations with junior scholars. Afternoon sessions will give the opportunity to a select group of young scholars and Ph.D students to present their work.
The scientific committee of the China Economics Summer Institute is composed of Chong-En Bai, Ruixue Jia, Hongbin Li, Ernest Liu, Yi Lu, Albert Park, Gérard Roland, Zheng (Michael) Song, Heiwai Tang, Daniel Xu, Xiaobo Zhang, Yifan Zhang, and Li-An Zhou.
Please register online (https://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/mycuform/view.php?id=986684) for possible presentation at the meeting or expressions of interest in attending the meeting by 7 May 2021 (Friday).
If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Yours sincerely,
China Economics Summer Institute (CESI)
Website: http://cesi.econ.cuhk.edu.hk/
Email: [email protected]

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.


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