Ask NUS economists

What do MRT travel numbers tell us about work from home trends

The ‘Li Keqiang’ method of gleaning insights from seemingly unrelated data yields interesting results.

Commuters on an MRT train on Aug 29, 2022. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

A: It is difficult to get an accurate picture on this. Every month since May 2020, economists Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom and Steven Davis have surveyed several thousand Americans to understand the trends.

However, there is another way to approach the issue. In 2007, at a dinner with United States Ambassador Clark Randt, then Vice-Premier of China, Mr Li Keqiang, is famously reported to have criticised Chinese GDP statistics as being “man-made”. He preferred to judge economic growth by electricity production, rail cargo volume and bank lending. 

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