Li Jingkui

Professor, School of Economics, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics

Li Jingkui is a professor and thesis supervisor at the School of Economics, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics. He obtained a PhD in economics from Zhejiang University and was a visiting scholar and post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University's law and economics programme. He is the author of numerous books and has published many academic papers in the fields of law, economics, and the history of economic thought.   

A barber cuts a man's hair along a road in Beijing, China, on 7 December 2021. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

How being a good Samaritan can ‘spoil the market’

While some businessmen have good intentions in offering goods and services at lower prices, they could also be “spoiling the market” and making it harder for others to make a living. Such actions may invite backlash, whether in village scuffles, or writ large, protests and anti-dumping measures between countries. China, the world’s factory, has borne the brunt of such pushback. Industries in other countries are affected, as capital moves freely between borders but labour stays in place. Those who feel they are losing out may hold grudges and end up dealing a big blow to society.
A couple with a child ride on a scooter in Shanghai, China, on 7 September 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

‘Leftover men’ in the Chinese countryside and ‘leftover women’ in Chinese cities

Perhaps the theory of the survival of the fittest can help to explain the opposite gender imbalance in rural-urban China. Aspirant males and females head to cities in search of better prospects; the latter, with the added aim of better marriage prospects, invariably outnumber the men. Of the males that stay or return, there is the heavy bride price to pay to win the hand of a lady among the smaller pool of women left in the rural areas. This modern malaise is something no provincial policy can easily solve, says economist Li Jingkui.
People walk in a commercial street during the country's national "Golden Week" holiday in Beijing, China, on 2 October 2021. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Chinese economics professor: What to do when you have a stinky neighbour

A family stroll down a food alley has Chinese economist Li Jingkui teaching the Coase theorem while holding his breath and fleeing a luosifen stall and its pungent smells. If rights of stallholders are defined and transaction costs are low, then the optimal value of resources in society will be realised. That is, either the luosifen moves away under some compensation from his neighbour or it stays put and his neighbours cope with the negative externalities this presents.
People dine at a restaurant in Beijing, China, 13 August 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Chinese economics professor: If you like salty and spicy food, your ancestors might have been poorer folk

The Big Mac index as an informal gauge of the economic standards and consumption capacities of countries is well known. But actually, there’s also the pickle index, the lipstick index, and the ultimate indicator from everyday life — the regional food flavours index. What do the saltier, bold-flavoured food in regions like Hunan, Jiangxi and Shandong, and the clean, light flavours of Jiangsu say about the relative states of their regional economies?
This photo taken on 6 September 2021 shows residents looking at a flooded area after heavy rainfalls in Quxian county, Dazhou city, Sichuan province, China. (STR/AFP)

Chinese economics professor: The making of a moral society

How can one encourage a society where people do things that benefit not just themselves but also others? How can we eliminate bad behaviours and encourage better ones by institutionalising various means of rewarding good behaviour? Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui looks at examples from Chinese modern life and history to find the answers.
A woman carries an elderly woman as they make their way through floodwaters following heavy rainfall in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, 23 July 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Chinese economics professor: Why we should not profit from natural disasters

In the wake of floods in Henan and the case of a hotel that raised its prices sky-high, Henan native and economics professor Li Jingkui gives a rejoinder to purists who swear by market-based resource allocation. He says sometimes, special circumstances warrant intervention to ensure an orderly distribution of resources. Profiting from the misfortune of others is certainly not a virtue according to Confucius or any good economist.
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks by a mural in Manhattan's Chinatown district of New York City, US, 2 June 2021. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Chinese economics professor: The New York I saw was not the New York I read about in books

Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui is pensive as he visits New York City for the first time. Rather than the romanticised versions of the city he had read about, the New York he encounters in Flushing, Queens is gritty and a whole other reality. But he reflects that as societies and cultures continue to evolve, fighting for dominance in a state of chaos, the side they show to the world will sometimes be different but always real.
A man stands next to Houhai Lake during the sunset in Beijing, China on 16 May 2021. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Chinese economics professor: How I fell for a scam

After a good laugh over falling for a phone app scam, Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui says seriously that the scammers’ tactics involved simple economics and he should have caught on to it sooner. But perhaps he was just being human and some knowledge of psychology would have been more helpful in this case?
In this picture taken on 11 January 2021, young gymnasts train at the Li Xiaoshuang Gymnastics School in Xiantao, Hubei province, China. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

A Chinese education: Why are Chinese parents and kids going to extremes?

As children cram for their studies, their parents are cramming along with them, believing that they should be good role models. Is all this hyper-learning normal or good? Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui will let others be the judge, but he says that economically speaking, this is a sign that social mobility is shrinking; everyone feels compelled to grasp the last inch of rope that will airlift them to a better life.