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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 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 Social and Economic Data Center at Tsinghua University. He founded the Chinese College Student Survey (CCSS) in 2009 and the China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES) in 2014. Hongbin’s research has been focused on the transition and development of the Chinese economy, and the evidence-based research results have been both widely covered by media outlets and well read by policy makers around the world . He is currently the co-editor of the Journal of Comparative Economics.

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. 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 other regions of China, a second province, Hubei, was added in 2016 and three more provinces (Jilin, Jiangsu and Sichuan) were added in 2018. The firms and workers surveyed in Guangdong in 2015 were followed up in 2016 and 2018, 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 2,000 firms and about 20,000 workers from five provinces in 2018. The firm and worker questionnaires were designed by a team of over 30 economists and other social scientists. The 2018 firm questionnaire includes over 1,000 variables, covering basic situation, firm head characteristics, management, production, sales, innovation, quality control, and human resources. The employee questionnaire includes several hundred variables, covering personal background, current job, work history, social insurance, and personality traits.