Mingli Zhong is a research associate in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute. She is also a visiting scholar at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Urban, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her doctoral dissertation received the Social Security Administration Dissertation Fellowship Program in Retirement and Disability Research and Robert R. Nathan Fellowship. She received a PhD in applied economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020.
Zhong’s research focuses on household and consumer finance. She examines saving, spending, and borrowing behavior. She studies the interaction between private savings and the social safety net. Her recent projects address the optimal design of automatic enrollment retirement plans, the impact of the expansion of automatic enrollment plans on low-income workers, and spending and borrowing patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zhong also studies the labor market, especially the impacts of the gig economy on labor market participation, income security, and retirement decisions.
Zhong’s research has been funded by AARP, Boettner Center/Pension Research Council at Wharton, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Social Security Administration. She has been interviewed by government officials and business leaders as an emerging expert on household financial security. Her research has been cited in Brookings, MarketWatch, Marketplace, NBER Digest, ThinkAdvisor, and 401kspecialist.