Li Ma begun her academic career in Sweden by studying the 2-years Multidisciplinary Master’s Programme in Demography at the Department of Sociology, and thereafter pursued doctoral studies in Sociological Demography at the same department. 

After graduation in 2014, she worked as a research fellow at SUDA, followed by a 2-years postdoctoral position at the Center for Demographic Research, Université Catholique de Louvain in Brussels, Belgium. Li Ma has also worked as a researcher at the Centre for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CFBUPH) at Karlstad University. 

Her research has two main branches. First, she studies socioeconomic-demographic characteristics and mental health in children and adolescents in Sweden and Norway. Second, she studies social policy, family formation and disruption, childlessness, fertility, parental leave usage in the Swedish and Chinese context.