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Current Positions

  • James Liang Director of the China Program, Stanford King Center on Global Development
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR)


Hongbin Li is the James Liang Director of the China Program at the Stanford King Center on Global Development, and a Senior Fellow of Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). Hongbin Li obtained Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 2001 and joined the economics department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), where he became full professor in 2007. He was also one of the two founding directors of the Institute of Economics and Finance at the CUHK. He taught at Tsinghua University in Beijing 2007-2016 and was C.V. Starr Chair Professor of Economics in the School of Economics and Management. He also founded and served as the Executive Associate Director of the China Data Center at Tsinghua. He also co-directs the China Enterprise Survey and Data Center at Wuhan University, which conducts the China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES).

Professor Li’s research has been focused on China, and the research results have been both widely covered by media outlets around the world and well read by policy makers. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Comparative Economics, on the editorial board of China Economic Review, on the editorial advisory board for Journal of Economic Perspectives and China Agricultural Economic Review, and was an associate editor of Economic Development and Cultural Change(2016). He received Changjiang  Scholarship in China in 2009, the National Award for Distinguished Young Scientists in China in 2010, and the McKinsey Young Economist Research Paper Award in 2012. He is a Research Fellow of IZA and a senior research fellow of J. Mirrlees Institute of Economic Policy Research at Peking University.

Research Fields

Development, Labor, Political Economy and Chinese Economy


China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES)
The China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES) is a new longitudinal study of manufacturing firms and workers in China.  The CEES was initiated in 2014 by Hong Cheng at Wuhan University, Yang Du at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Hongbin Li at Stanford University (then Tsinghua University), and Albert Park at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The four founders are also principal investigators (PIs) of the CEES project. The project is administered by the China Enterprise Survey and Data Center (CESDC) at Wuhan University.
CEES began in 2015 with a survey of firms and workers in China’s most important industrial province, Guangdong, located on China’s coast near Hong Kong. To capture differences with China’s rising central region, a second province, Hubei, was added in 2016. The firms and workers surveyed in Guangdong in 2015 were followed up in 2016, with new workers added to the employee sample. Firm were randomly sampled from the 3rd National Economic Census conducted in early 2014, and in each firm we randomly sampled about 10 workers. In total, we collected data from about 1,000 firms and about 10,000 workers from two provinces (Guangdong and Hubei) in 2016.
The firm and worker questionnaires were designed by the four PIs, together with a team of over 30 researchers. The 2016 firm questionnaire includes seven modules and 1,030 variables, covering basic situation (including firm accounting data), firm head characteristics, management, production, sales, innovation, quality control, and human resources. The employee questionnaire includes five modules and 443 variables, covering personal background, current job, work history, social insurance, and personality traits.