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.   

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.
Why must gifts be reciprocated? (iStock)

Chinese economics professor: Why we exchange gifts, from ancient China to the present

Have you ever received a gift that you did not like? Economics professor Li Jingkui notes that when there is a mismatch between the gift and its recipient, the giver and receiver suffer a "deadweight loss". But still, many of us continue to exchange gifts. After much thought and research, Li found the answer for such persistent human behaviour in a Maori myth — you give a part of yourself along with your gift, which is something more valuable than the gift itself. 
This photo taken on 24 April 2021 shows a farmer walking along terraced rice paddy fields in Congjiang, Guizhou province, China. (STR/AFP)

Chinese economics professor: My grandmother and the kind, gentle souls of rural China

Li Jingkui remembers his grandmother and her generation of kind, gentle souls who survived through wars, famines and heartache. The indomitable spirit of the rural folk is the secret of China’s meteoric progress. As new generations today overlook these unsung heroes and economists tinker with models and facts, never forget the kind, gentle souls of the countryside, he says, for their sacrifice is the country’s moral compass.
Qin Shi Huang's Terracotta Army, built to protect the emperor in his afterlife. (iStock)

Why were Chinese imperial families prone to fratricides and tragedies?

Throughout Chinese history, imperial families were some of the fiercest battlegrounds. Emperors stopped at nothing to hold on to power. At the instigation of wily courtiers, they might even have executed their kin without batting an eyelid. Li Jingkui says economically speaking, this has to do with the logic of contract theory — there was no neutral arbiter in leadership transitions. Without a third party to oversee the proceedings, family members were often subjected to the tyranny of the “lion king“. But under those circumstances, could anyone else other than the emperor have held court?
People wearing face masks walk at Qianmen street in Beijing, China, on 11 February 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Chinese economics professor: Fathers are not inferior to mothers when it comes to parenting

When Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui sent his daughter for extra classes regularly, he noticed that he was surrounded by mostly female parents. He started thinking about the roles of men and women in raising children throughout history and of his own experience growing up in an agricultural town in northern China. He came to the conclusion that the traditional division of labour between men and women is defined by productivity and the status of the sexes which are changing rapidly in modern society. So what should be the best mode of raising a child in the 21st century?