Research / Weiss Fund Supported ResearchMar 03, 2021

Connecting the Countryside via E-Commerce: Evidence from China

Victor Couture, Benjamin Faber, Yizhen Gu, Lizhi Liu

This paper estimates the impact of the first nationwide e-commerce expansion program on rural households. To do so, we combine a randomized control trial with new survey and administrative microdata. In contrast to existing case studies, we find little evidence for income gains to rural producers and workers. Instead, the gains are driven by a reduction in cost of living for a minority of rural households that tend to be younger, richer, and in more remote markets. These effects are mainly due to overcoming logistical barriers to e-commerce rather than additional investments to adapt e-commerce to the rural population.