Zhimin Li

I am a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. I am on the job market and will be available for interviews at the ASSA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia (January 5-7, 2018).
Curriculum Vitae [Download PDF]

Contact Information

Phone:    +1 510 717 4677

Address207 Giannini Hall #3310
               University of California
               Berkeley, CA 94720-3310

Research Interests
International Trade, Macroeconomics, Development Economics, Chinese Economy

Working Papers

This paper studies how the "China shock" the remarkable growth in China's productivity and trade activities since its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO)affects China's labor market and real exchange rate dynamics.  I apply a dynamic trade and spatial equilibrium model to jointly explain two distinctive features of China's economic growth: the structural transformation, as characterized by the reallocation of labor from agriculture to manufacturing and services, and the sluggish appreciation of the real exchange rate, a puzzle from the perspective of a standard international economics model. The model highlights the role of the subsistence sector in shaping the patterns of the structural transformation and real exchange rate dynamics. Using inter-regional trade and migration data, I calibrate the model to decompose the "China shock" into productivity and trade shocks and show that the two features above naturally arise from the interaction between the labor market and observed shocks to productivity and trade costs. I find that while productivity growth is the primary source of the structural transformation, the accession to the WTO explains about 35% of the rise in the employment share and 20% of the increase in the real wage in the manufacturing sector. Welfare gains from the "WTO entry" are 27% on average and would be larger if complemented by relaxing labor restrictions further. By accounting for trade costs, the subsistence sector, and labor market frictions, the model generates dynamics for China's real exchange rate consistent with the data.

Since 2007 the U.S. witnessed an unprecedented surge in housing purchases by foreign Chinese. Using detailed transaction-level housing purchase data, we provide the first empirical estimates of how the real estate investment by overseas Chinese affects local economies in the U.S. We exploit cross-sectional variation in the concentration of Chinese population stemming from pre-sample period differences in Chinese population settlement. We find that housing investment by foreign Chinese increases local housing prices as well as local employment in the non-tradable sector. These results suggest that the improvement in household balance sheets resulting from housing investment inflows to the U.S. played a mitigating role during the Great Recession. Our evidence highlights the role of capital inflow and foreign investments on the domestic output and employment, especially in times of economic downturns.

Work in Progress

"Agglomeration and the Effect of Government Spending on Economic Geography: Evidence from WWII Defense Spending" (with Dmitri K. Koustas)

What are the short-run and long-run effects of government spending on economic geography? We attempt to answer this question by estimating the impact of defense spending during World War II (WWII), the largest government spending program in the U.S. history, on population growth and economic density across regions. We digitized a unique dataset of all WWII war supply contracts greater than $50,000 between June 1940 and September 1945 from volumes initially issued by Civilian Production Administration (formerly War Production Board). By linking these spending data with regional and firm-level data, we investigate the channels for the effect of government spending on economic geography through agglomeration spillovers. 

"China must rethink free float for the yuan as US border tax looms(with Weifeng Zhong), South China Morning Post, March 2017.
"China needs reform not another investment splurge" (with Weifeng Zhong), The Financial Times beyondbrics, February 2016.

Teaching Experience
Graduate Student Instructor for International Trade (ECON 181, undergraduate), Economics Department, UC Berkeley Spring 2016.

Graduate Student Instructor for Macroeconomics (UGBA 101B, undergraduate), Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley Spring 2015. 

Graduate Student Instructor for Development Economics (EEP 152, undergraduate), Ag. & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley Fall 2014 and Fall 2015. 

Instructor for Introduction to Economics, Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes in Singapore, Stanford University, Summer 2015.

Pre-Doctoral Publications
"An Empirical Evaluation of the Accuracy of the Hartley and Rao (1962) Variance Approximation Following PPS Systematic Sampling" (with T.G. Gregoire), Pakistan Journal of Statistics, 2011, 27(4): 555-566.

"An Application of Behavioral Modeling to Characterize Urban Angling Decisions and Values" (with M.F. Bingham et al.), North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 2011, 31: 257-268.