Oliver W. Kim


Job Market Paper

NOAA rocket launch
The launch of a NOAA satellite.

Reassessing China's Rural Reforms: The View from Outer Space, with Joel Ferguson. [Latest Draft]

Abstract: We study one of the central reforms in China’s economic miracle, the Household Responsibility System (HRS), which decollectivized agriculture starting in 1978. The HRS is commonly seen as having significantly boosted agricultural productivity—but this conclusion rests on unreliable official data. We use historical satellite imagery to generate new measurements of grain yield, independent of official Chinese statistics. Using a difference-in-discontinuities design, we find no causal evidence that provinces that adopted the HRS sooner experienced faster grain yield growth. These results challenge our conventional understanding of decollectivization, land reform, and the origins of the Chinese miracle.

Working Papers

The Distribution of Power: Decentralization and Favoritism in Public Infrastructure, with Catherine D. Wolfram, Susanna B. Berkouwer, Felipe Vial, Eric Hsu, and Edward Miguel. [Available on request.]

Privilège Exorbitant? The Developmental Effects of the CFA Franc, with Abdoulaye Cissé and Joel Ferguson.

Land Reform and the Taiwanese Miracle, with Jen Kuan Wang. [Latest Draft]


Money or Power? Choosing Covid-19 Aid in Kenya, with Susanna B. Berkouwer, Pierre Biscaye, Eric Hsu, Kenneth Lee, Edward Miguel, and Catherine D. Wolfram. Energy Economics. 2023. 127(B)107036. [Journal version] [Working paper] [IGC Blog Post] [PEDL Blog Post]