Over the past three decades, the Chinese economy has experienced a transformation that is unprecedented in scale and speed. Since 1990, per capita income has increased by more than 900 percent, creating a robust and growing middle class. Poverty has plummeted, and innovation has soared—China now ranks second only to the United States in international patent applications.This remarkable growth has not come without serious challenges, however. From financial market and banking reform to environmental regulation, Chinese policymakers today are confronting a wide range of issues that will be critical to address in order to sustain further progress.

To bring the rigor of Chicago Economics to the forefront of addressing these challenges, the Becker Friedman Institute (BFI) launched BFI-China in 2018. This groundbreaking partnership between UChicago economists and Chinese researchers and institutions will produce new insights on the most critical policy challenges facing China today, and will share those findings with the world.

BFI-China’s Three Areas of Research

To support research that produces timely, relevant insights, BFI-China is organized around three targeted research initiatives. Each initiative will draw from unparalleled skills, knowledge, and expertise of UChicago faculty working in collaboration with Chinese institutional partners.

Chinese Economic Growth Initiative

The Chinese Economic Growth Initiative will conduct ground-breaking research to provide a better understanding of the factors driving China’s extraordinary economic expansion.

The Macro Finance Research Program (MFR-China)

MFRI-China will explore financial market evolution, banking reform, debt, and reform of state-owned enterprises.

Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, China (EPIC-China)

In partnership with leading Chinese research institutions, EPIC-China will explore opportunities to achieve further, cost-effective pollution reductions that benefit Chinese citizens while fostering economic growth.

Tsinghua University – University of Chicago Joint Research Center for Economics and Finance

Established in 1911, Tsinghua University is one of China’s most prestigious and influential universities, with a tradition of academic excellence and strong international partnerships. On November 28, 2018, in conjunction with the opening of the Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex and University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong, BFI was proud to announce a partnership with Tsinghua University’s School for Economics & Management to form the Joint Research Center for Economics and Finance.

The Research Center is a first-of-its-kind partnership that will support frontier economics research, faculty and doctoral student exchanges, and regular workshops and forums to share results and discuss areas of mutual interest. Calls for research proposals for UChicago and Tsinghua University economists will be sent in 2019.

Associated Working Papers

BFI Working Paper Oct 16, 2019

Grasp the Large, Let Go of the Small: The Transformation of the State Sector in China

Chang-Tai Hsieh, Zheng (Michael) Song
BFI Working Paper Oct 16, 2019

The Return to Capital in China

Chong-En Bai, Chang-Tai Hsieh, Yingyi Qian
BFI Working Paper Aug 18, 2019

The Financing of Local Government in China: Stimulus Loan Wanes and Shadow Banking Waxes

Zhuo Chen, Zhiguo He, Chun Liu