I believe motivation is a crucial element in the process of learning, and motivation can be ignited when students are shown how to relate economic theory to their daily lives.

Carl Lin

In 1999, Professor Carl Lin, economics, was an army platoon leader on Kinmen, an island of his native Taiwan located about a mile from mainland China. It was a time of heightened military tension in the area, and Lin, who had developed an interest in the Chinese economy as an undergraduate in Taipei, wanted to know more about the complicated Cross-Strait relationship between China and Taiwan.

"China has the largest population in the world, and it plays an extremely important role in the global economy," says Lin, whose research in applied microeconomics and labor economics focuses on immigration, minimum wages and the Chinese economy. "China has experienced rapid institutional changes and achieved remarkable economic growth since the country announced reform in 1978. It is necessary for everyone concerned with the development of the world to better understand the Chinese economy," he says.

Lin studies how public policy impacts the welfare of employees and employers. "While the impact of immigration on employers is of special interest to policy makers, important questions remain because most research on the impact of immigration has focused on the consequences for employees as measured by wages and employment. Less is known about the impact on employers," he says. "We lack answers to questions concerning the quantitative impact of immigrants on employer profits. We also don't know which type of employers are most likely to have increased profits, or reductions, as a result of immigration."

China has an abundance of low-paid occupations that are at risk from minimum wage changes, Lin says. "Rapidly increasing minimum wages have helped increase average wages and reduced the gender-specific wage gap, but the fast-rising minimum wage has also resulted in job losses for young adults, women and low-skilled workers. The Chinese minimum wage policy has had both positive and negative impacts on workers, which shows the importance of rigorous research to inform policy making," he says.

Lin hopes to make a meaningful contribution to the development and growth of his students. "I believe motivation is a crucial element in the process of learning, and motivation can be ignited when students are shown how to relate economic theory to their daily lives."

Posted Oct. 7, 2015

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