Jessica Leight (American University)

December 6, 2017 @ 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute
49 E 65th St
New York, NY 10065
Karna Basu

Jessica Leight is an Assistant Professor of Economics at American University, specializing in development economics and political economy.

Seminar topic: “Exporting out of Agriculture: The Impact of WTO Accession on Structural Transformation in China”

Abstract: This paper analyzes the effect of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 on structural transformation at the local level, exploiting cross-sectional variation in tariff uncertainty faced by local economies pre-2001. Using a new panel of approximately 2,000 Chinese counties observed from 1996 to 2013, we find that counties more exposed to the reduction in tariff uncertainty post-accession are characterized by increased exports and foreign direct investment, shrinking agricultural sectors, expanding secondary sectors, and higher total and per capita GDP. These findings are robust to a range of alternate specifications, and to controlling for other contemporaneous reforms.