Great Problems, Great Minds Seminar Series: Rural Road Stimulus and the Role of Matching Mandates on Economic Recovery in China

Join the Department of Social Sciences for this Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event featuring guest speaker Anthony Howell, an associate professor of public policy and management in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University. He will present a talk on “Rural Road Stimulus and the Role of Matching Mandates on Economic Recovery in China.” This event will take place on September 15, from 3:15–4:30 p.m. via Zoom.


“Rural Road Stimulus and the Role of Matching Mandates on Economic Recovery in China” explores the implications for the economic recovery of a rural road stimulus program in China that led to the sudden suspension of local matching mandates. A temporary cost share exemption stimulates short-term income growth in treated villages because a cost share exemption leads to larger increases in local investment, mainly on allied road improvements and, to a lesser extent, support for rural enterprise development and agricultural services. The observed crowding-in effects are further linked to the reallocation of households out of agriculture and a rise in entrepreneurial activities by returning migrants. So matching mandates impede the ability of fiscally constrained locales to mobilize sufficient resources to cover their share of project costs, contributing to inadequate road investment from upper-levels of government. Suspending the matching mandate helps to relax local budget constraints, stimulating income and local multipliers that help to accelerate economic recovery.


Arizona State University Associate Professor of Public Policy and Management Anthony Howell has previously served as an associate professor of applied microeconomics in the School of Economics at Peking University. He also served as a Fulbright Scholar at the Lincoln Institute of Urban Development and Land Policy in Beijing, a science and technology policy fellow at the National Academies of Sciences in Washington D.C., and a research fellow at the Asian Development Bank in Manila. He received his Ph.D. in geography and M.S. degree in statistics from University of California, Los Angeles, his M.S. degree in geographic information science, and B.A. degrees in political science, international development, and chinese studies from Michigan State University. His research interests intersect the fields of quantitative economic geography, migration, economic development, firm growth, entrepreneurship and innovation, and policy evaluation with a strong regional expertise in China and the Asia-Pacific.

This event is part of the Social Sciences Colloquium of the Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series which explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the twenty-first century. To see the full schedule and videos from previous events, visit the seminar series page. For more information, contact Associate Professor of Social Sciences Hao Huang at