DP12771 Connecting the Countryside via E-Commerce: Evidence from China

Author(s): Victor Couture, Benjamin Faber, Yizhen Gu, Lizhi Liu
Publication Date: March 2018
Date Revised: January 2020
Keyword(s): E-commerce, economic development, rural-urban divide, trade integration
JEL(s): F63, O12, R13
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics, Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12771

This paper estimates the impact of the first nation-wide e-commerce expansion program on rural households. To do so, we combine a randomized control trial with new survey and administrative microdata. In contrast to existing case studies, we find little evidence for income gains to rural producers and workers. Instead, the gains are driven by a reduction in cost of living for a minority of rural households who tend to be younger, richer and in more remote markets. These effects are mainly due to overcoming logistical barriers to e-commerce, rather than to additional investments to adapt e-commerce to the rural population.