Trade and Immigration

Globalization is shaping the world around us through the movement of people and goods across borders. PDEL projects seek to understand this process by improving the theoretical tools available to explain firm productivity and using unconventional measurement technologies to observe the process of industrialization in new ways.

Faculty Projects

Satellite Data

Using High-Resolution Satellite Data to Evaluate the Impact of New Business Formation

Researcher: Gordon Hanson, Albert Lin, Jessica Block, Amanda Schochet, Velu Ganapathy, Amit Khandelwal
Location: India

Overview: This project develops new evaluation techniques to measure the impact of new business formation on local economic development using ultra high-resolution multi-spectral satellite images. The project will be piloted in Gujarat, India, and results will provide new methods for studying the impact of rapid urbanization on socio-economic levels at a global scale.


Risk, Savings and Rural-Urban Migration in the Developing World

Researcher: David Lagakos
Location: Bangladesh

Overview: Private schools are gaining popularity in developing countries and so are government programs that provide vouchers for poor students to attend them. In India, this project measured the impact of providing vouchers to attend private schools on student learning.

Comparative Advantage

The Empirical Dynamics of Comparative Advantage

Researcher: Marc Muendler, Gordon Hanson
Location: United States

Overview: As China, India and other emerging economies rise to be major economic players, comparative advantage is becoming an increasingly important driver of global trade. This project seeks to learn either about the pace at which emerging-economy export capabilities are evolving, or the forces responsible for their trade dynamism.

Graduate Student Projects

High Speed Rail in China

Impact of High-Speed Rail in China

Researcher: Wei You
Location: China

Overview: This project uses geo-located Chinese Twitter (Sina Weibo) data to study the impact of massive high-speed rail construction on the commuting and traveling patterns of Chinese people. The total mileage of high-speed rail in operation in China today has reached one half of world total. This large-scale transportation infrastructure project greatly shortens travel time between Chinese cities, and potentially has large impact on people's traveling behavior. Researchers use geo-located Chinese “tweets,” extracted from Sina Weibo for the year 2014, to trace the flows of individual users and look at how these flows are changed by access to high-speed rails.