China’s economy: A&M scholar takes first steps to gather household data

family of three having a picnic

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Professor of Economics Li Gan initiated and currently serves as the director of the China Household Finance Survey (CHFS), providing the first substantial step in understanding China’s economy at the household level.

This information can play a vital role in both the creation of Chinese public policy and further research on the world’s second-largest economy.

“People of academia, industry and public policy want to know how Chinese households behave financially, and this understanding can only be gained through a household level survey,” Gan said.

Founded by The Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China, the Research Center for China Household Finance biennially conducts the CHFS, which gathers micro-level data about Chinese household financial information such as business assets, income, insurance, and expenditure.

Gan notes that detailed household level research is typical in the United States and collectively provides the information needed to explore scholarly, industrial and public questions about American households.

“We do not fully understand Chinese household saving, spending, borrowing, income, and unemployment rate. Not Chinese scholars, American scholars, or the Chinese government themselves,” he said.

In recognition of the absence of such research in China, he initiated the survey determined to advance the understanding of Chinese household finance.

“China is a vast and fast-changing country. Designing a sampling frame for this type of research is extremely challenging considering that China does not maintain a stable address and phone record system,” said Gan.

The survey has been discussed and cited by many renowned media sources including Science Magazine, The Economist, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, CNBC, Bloomberg, and many others.

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