Scroll to Section:

The share of Chinese people with college education and the wage premium that they earn has increased dramatically since 1990. In this video, LEI LI explores the factors underlying this and argues that it can be partially attributed to the importation of machinery. Analyzing population data from the 330 Chinese prefectures and exploring regional differences in machinery importation, Li finds that the importation of machinery is indeed a key driver in rapid human capital accumulation in China. Ongoing research will explore the policy implications of Li’s findings as well as the extent to which they apply to other developing economies.


Lei Li is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Mannheim. She is also a Research Affiliate of the German Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). She has previously completed postdoctoral research at the University of Zurich. Lei Li’s research focuses on international trade, labor economics and development economics. Having published research in both Chinese and in English, Lei Li has received several prestigious awards from Tsinghua University, where she completed her PhD (2016)


University of Mannheim (Universität Mannheim)

For generations, the University of Mannheim has been preparing students to take on leadership roles in business, academia, and society. One of the university’s strengths in this task is its profile, which is characterized by the economic and social sciences. It is in these fields that the University of Mannheim has repeatedly been ranked as one of the top 20 European research institutions. Key focuses of Mannheim researchers include decision-making processes and elections, governance, regulation, competition and innovation, migration and multilingualism, and the culture of change. The campus surrounding Mannheim’s baroque palace is a place where bright minds from across the globe come together to learn, discuss, research, and prepare to make their mark on the world.
Show more

Original publication

Skill-Biased Imports, Human Capital Accumulation, and the Allocation of Talent

Li Lei
Published in 2020

Reading recommendations

The End of Cheap Chinese Labor

Li Lei, Li Hongbin, Wu Binzhen and Xiong Yanyan
Journal of Economic Perspectives
Published in 2012

Understanding Regional Export Growth in China

others, Li Lei, Dorn David, Hanson Gordon, Yan Ing Lili and Yu Miaojie
Published in 2018