Professor Xin Meng

Xin Meng


Research School of Economics

Phone number
+61 2 612 53102
Room 2068, LF Crisp Bld (26)
Research areas

Development economics; Labour economics; Economics of education; Applied microeconomics; Economic history.


Xin Meng is Professor of Economics. Xin is also a member of Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and member of various economic associations and societies. Xin’s research spans four main themes: 1. The Chinese labour market during transition, including changes in income distribution and poverty, the impact of labour market rigidities on economic development, and the effect of economic shocks on consumption; 2. The influence of institutions and culture on gender discrimination in developing and developed countries; 3. The economic implications of rural-urban migration in developing countries and the economic assimilation of immigrants in developed countries; and 4. Economic and behavioural implications of major catastrophes, such as the impact of the Chinese famine and Cultural Revolution on life time earnings and welfare of individuals and families. Xin spent over ten years leading a major research project on the Rural-Urban Migration in China (the RUMiC). The project conducted a panel survey of rural-urban migrants for nine consecutive years (2008-2016) and the first three waves of data are available publically. Xin’s research has been supported by multiple funders including the Australian Research Council’s Discovery and Linkage Project schemes on five occasions, as well as by organisatons such as the Australian Government Department, AusAID, the Ford Foundation and World Bank. Xin’s work has been published in leading journals including ScienceReview of Economic StudiesThe Economic JournalJournal of Economic PerspectivesJournal of Labour EconomicsJournal of Development EconomicsLabour EconomicsJournal of Public EconomicsOxford Economic PapersEconomic Development and Cultural ChangeReview of Income and WealthJournal of Comparative Economics and Journal of Population Economics.

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Personal Website


Research publications

Selected Publications

Meng, X., 2000, Labour Market Reform in China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Meng, X. and Kidd, M., 1997 "Wage Determination in China's State Sector in the 1980s", Journal of Comparative Economics, 25(3), pp.403-421.

Meng, X., 2003, "Unemployment, consumption smoothing, and precautionary saving in urban China", Journal of Comparative Economics, 31(3), pp.465-485.

Meng, X. and Gregory, R. G., 2005, "Intermarriage and the economic assimilation of immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, 23(1), pp.135-176.

Cai, F., Giles, J., and Meng, X., 2006, "How well do children insure parents against low retirement income? Evidence from urban China", Journal of Public Economics, 90, 2229-2255.

Gorgens, T., Meng, X., and Vaithianathan, R., 2012, "Selection and stunting effects of famine: Case study of the Great Chinese Famine," Journal of Development Economics.

Frijters, P., Liu, A., and Meng, X., 2012, "Are optimistic expectations keeping the Chinese happy?", Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 81, pp.159-171.Gong, H.C.,

Gong, C., Leigh, A., and Meng, X., 2012, "Intergenerational income mobility in urban China", Review of Income and Wealth, 58(3), pp. 481-503

Meng, X., Shen, K.L., and Xue, S., 2013, "Economic reform, education expansion, and earnings inequality for urban males in China, 1988-2009", Journal of Comparative Economics.

Meng, X., 2012, “Labor market outcomes and reforms in China”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26(4), pp.75-102.

Cameron, L., Erkal, N., Gangadharan, L, and Meng, X., 2013, “Little Emperors: Behavioral impacts of China’s One-Child Policy”, Science, 10 January 2013.

Meng, X., 2014, “People Flocking to China’s Cities: A Book Review on China’s Urban Billion: The story Behind the Biggest Migration in Human History, by Tom Miller”, Science, Vol 343, 10 January, 2014.

Cameron, L and Meng, X., 2014 “China’s one child policy”, The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, The Palgrave Macmillan Press.

Meng, X., Qian, N., and Yared, P., 2015, “The Institutional Causes of China's Great Famine, 1959-1961”, Review of Economic Studies, 82, pp.1568-1611

Meng, X. and Yamauchi, C., 2017, “Children of migrants: The cumulative impact of parental migration on their children’s education and health outcomes”, Demography, 54, pp. 1677-1714, doi: 10.1007/s13524-017-0613-z.

Fan, E., Meng, X., Wei, Z., and Zhao, G., 2017, “Rates of return to four-year university education: An application of regression discontinuity design”, The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, doi:10.1111/sjoe.12251.

Meng, X., 2017, “The Labor Contract Law, macro conditions, self-selection, and labor market outcomes for migrants in China”, Asian Economic Policy Review, 12(1).

Cameron, L, Meng, X., and Zhang, D., 2019, "Sex ratio and crime: Behavioural change or financial necessity?" Economic Journa, 129(618), pp.790-820.

Booth, A., Fan, E., Meng, X. and Zhang, D., 2019 “Gender differences in willingness to compete: The role of culture and institutions”, Economic Journal, 129(618), pp. 734-764.

Iyer, Lakshmi, Meng, Xin, Qian, Nancy, and Zhao, Xiaoxue, 2019, “Economic transition and private-sector labor: Evidence from Urban China”, Journal of Comparative Economics, 47(3), pp.579-600.

Meng, Xin and Xue, Sen, 2019, “Social networks and mental health outcomes: Chinese rural-urban migrant experience”, Journal of Population Economics, 33(2), pp.155-195.

Booth, Alison, Freeman, Richard, Meng, Xin and Zhang, James Jilu, forthcoming, “Trade unions and the welfare of rural-urban migrant workers in China”,  Industrial and Labor Relations Review.

Dustmann, Christian, Fasani, Francesco, Meng, Xin and Minale, Luigi, forthcoming, “Risk attitudeand household migration decision”, Journal of Human Resources

Giles, John, Meng, Xin, Sen, Xue, and Zhao, Guochang, forthcoming, “Can information influence the social insurance participation decision of China’s rural migrants?”, Journal of Development Economics.

Research grants and awards

Selected Research Grants

  1. 2006-2010, Ford Foundation Grant on The First Longitudinal Survey of Rural-Urban Migration in China (joint with Professor Li Shi from Institute of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)
  2. 2006-2010, AusAID, Longitudinal Survey of Rural-Urban Migration in China and Indonesia (joint with Paul Frijters, Xiaodong Gong, Budy Resosudarmo, and Chris Manning, conditional on winning ARC linkage grant).
  3. 2006-2011, ARC Linkage Project, research grant on Rural-Urban Migration in China and Indonesia (joint with Paul Frijters, Xiaodong Gong, Budy Resosudarmo, and Chris Manning, conditional on winning ARC Linkage Project grant).
  4. 2009-2011, ARC Discovery Project, research grant on The effect of networks on jobs and mental health in China (joint with Paul Frijters, Bob Gregory, Christian Dustmann, and Francisca Comaglia).
  5. 2011-2014, AusAID, Public Sector Linkages Program: Study of Rural-Urban Migration in Vietnam with Insights from China and Indonesia.
  6. 2014-2016 ARC Discovery Project, research grant on “Height, Body Mass Index and Demographic Changes in the Asian Giant” (joint with Tim Hatton and Daniel Suryadarma).
  7. 2015-2017, ARC Linkage Project, research grant on “A New Phase and New Issues of Rural-Urban Migration in China” (joint with Bob Gregory and Richard Freeman).
  8. 2015-2016, World Bank “Social Protection and Employment Dynamics of Rural-Urban Migrants in China” (joint with John Giles, Sen Xue, and Guochang Zhao).
  9. 2018-2020, ARC Discovery Project, research grant on “Inequality of Health, Wealth, and Education in China” (joint with Loren Brandt and Hongbin Li).


Advanced Topics in Poverty, Public Policy and Development