The China research cluster aims to promote rigorous empirical research on the Chinese economy. China provides a uniquely advantageous context for researchers interested in economic and institutional development.

In the past 200 years, China has experienced rapid and often drastic changes in economic well-being, politics and even culture. These changes provide a rich laboratory for conducting natural and field experiments, from which we hope to gain generalizable insights about the details of the complicated process of development.


China Data Access Project

The China Data Access Project (CDAP) promotes access to microdata from China by providing the names, basic description and known usage of all large sample microdata that have been used in existing research papers. Researchers are responsible for obtaining the data on their own. Where possible, links to the actual data will be provided.

View the project


Lecture Series

The China research cluster invites top researchers to speak about their research to a broad audience of economists. The goal is to increase knowledge about the Chinese economy and about doing research on the Chinese economy to faculty and graduate students.

Each lecture focuses on one topic, and in addition to the usual academic presentation, the speaker is asked to address the following questions:

  1. What should policymakers in China do differently?
  2. What did policymakers in China do right?
  3. Are there lessons for policymakers in other countries?
  4. What are the obvious questions for which more empirical research is needed?
  5. What obstacles did the researchers face in doing research on China, and how should students overcome them?
  6. Where/how did the researchers obtain data and institutional knowledge?



Date TBD:
David Dollar, John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution: US-China Trade and Technology Competition

Past speakers: 

October 30, 2019
Wei Cui, University of British Columbia: What is a Tax Audit in China?

May 15, 2019 
Daniel Xu, Duke University: Tax Incentives and Firm Investment in China

December 5, 2018 
Michael Greenstone, University of Chicago: Childhood Air Pollution Exposure, Human Capital Accumulation, and Adult Wage: Evidence from China's Huai River Policy

Multi-Day Workshops

During these workshops, researchers present and discuss works-in-progress, share ideas and work on existing or new collaborative projects. They are distinct in their small size, intimate nature and focus on earlier stages of research projects by established researchers. This allows for in-depth discussions and time for researchers to build collaborative relationships.

Each workshop has a topical theme, and invitees are each asked to invite one pre-existing collaborator. Workshops are held at Northwestern as well as at partner institutions in China. All invitees are asked to fund their own travel expenses if possible. In some cases, funding may be available.

Other Events

June 4-6, 2021
China Star Tour
Nano Barahona (Stanford University)
Christina Brown (UC Berkeley)
Allan Hsiao (MIT)
Peter Maxted (Harvard University)
Carolyn Stein (MIT)
Tianyi Wang (University of Pittsburgh)

May 6, 2021
The China Econ Lab Master Lecture Series
Emi Nakamura, UC-Berkeley Chancellor's Professor, John Bates Clark Medalist
Research on Empirical Macroeconomics

April 19-20, 2021
Political Economy Student Rookie Workshop
Silvia Vannutelli (Boston University)
Ricardo Dahis (Northwestern University)
Camille Urvoy (Sciences Po)
Brian Wheaton (Harvard University)
Sebastian Ellingsen (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Lisa Tarquinio (Boston University)
Martin Mattsson (Yale University)
Milena Djourelova (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

March 31, 2021
The China Econ Lab Submission Process Workshop
Paola Giuliano (UCLA, Anderson School of Management)
Rema Hanna (Harvard Kennedy School)
Juan Carlos Suarez Serrato (Duke University)
Daniel Xu (Duke University)

November 21 and 30, 2020
Political Economy Job Market Student Workshop Schedule
Milena Djourelova (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Ricardo Dahis (Northwestern University)
Giacomo Battiston (Bocconi University Milan)
Sebastian Ellingsen (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Augustin Bergeron (Harvard University)
Naila Shofia (Bocconi University Milan)
Elisa Macchi (University of Zurich)

July 15, 2020
Fudan-Kellogg Seminar: "Agora's Road to Success"
Tony Zhao (Agora, Founder and CEO)
Jenny Lee (GGV Capital, Managing Partner)

June 12, 19, and 26, 2020
China Star Tour
Evan Rose (UC Berkeley)
Isabela Manelici (UC Berkeley)
Ian Ball (Yale University)
Victoria Marone (Northwestern University)
Adrien Bilal (Princeton University)
Chen Lian (MIT)

November 20, 2019
Book Conference for "Good Economics For Hard Times," by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Book Presentation and Reading:
Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)

Round Table Panelists:
Benjamin Jones
Nicola Persico
Diane Schanzenbach



Exploratory Travel Grants

Travel Grants have been paused due to travel restrictions to China. The information will be updated when the travel restrictions have been lifted.

In order to deepen understanding of institutional details and data, the China research cluster provides exploratory travel grants to Northwestern PhD students and postdoctoral fellows to academic institutions in China. This grant is for projects in the early exploratory stages of research. Grant amounts range typically from $2000 to $5000. Recipients are encouraged to stay in China for 2 to 4 weeks. 


Short-Term Visitors

To promote the exchange of ideas, skills and data between US and Chinese scholars, we host top empirical researchers from China, including PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and tenure-line faculty. 

Visitors are all self-funded and invited to actively participate in the local development economics research community. Please email if interested.

Visiting Student and Scholars

This program provides hands-on training for individuals interested in empirical development research of the Chinese economy. Visitors conduct hands-on research with cluster faculty on existing projects, participate in seminars and workshops, and have the opportunity to present his/her own work. Visits range from one quarter to the full academic year. No course credits are given to visitors. 

We welcome applications from China as well as the United States and other countries. Students who plan to apply for an American economics PhD program are encouraged to apply. Limited partial funding may be available on a case-by-case basis. Interested applicants should send their research statement (statement of purpose), CV, transcript to All materials must be in English. The research statement should be no more than 2 pages, double-spaced, and must clearly state:
  • Why the applicant wishes to work with Northwestern development faculty
  • What research questions and methods the applicant would like to learn at Northwestern
  • Past research experience

Postdoctoral Fellowship

The postdoctoral fellowship funds individuals who have completed their PhD within the past two years. A substantial part (though not all) of the fellowship recipient’s research portfolio (which includes preliminary and ongoing work) should be about the Chinese economy. They are asked to participate in workshops and engage with the local development research community. There is no teaching obligation. Each fellowship is for 12 months, with the possibility of renewing up to three years.



Nancy Qian

James J. O’Connor Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences
Kellogg School of Management
Professor of Economics by courtesy appointment

View Bio

Jacopo Ponticelli

Associate Professor in Finance
Kellogg School of Management

View Bio

Georgy Egorov

Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences
Kellogg School of Management

View Bio

Harry Pei

Assistant Professor of Economics
Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences

View Bio

Yingni Guo

Assistant Professor of Economics
Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences

View Bio

PhD Students and Research Assistants

  • Ricardo Dahis, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, Northwestern University
  • Joe Long, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, Northwestern University
  • Joris Mueller, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, Northwestern University
  • Heyu Xiong, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, Northwestern University
  • Melanie Xue, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Economics, Northwestern University