Yuen Yuen Ang is a political scientist and expert on China and emerging economies. She is named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow for “high-caliber scholarship that applies fresh perspectives to the most pressing issues of our times.” On development, Ang’s scholarship and advising focuses uniquely on adaptation and innovation in the face of twenty-first century disruptions. On China, her expertise lies in Chinese political economy and the global impact of China’s rise.

Ang is the author of an award-winning book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (2016), acclaimed as “game changing” and “field shifting.” Her second book China’s Gilded Age: the Paradox of Economic Boom & Vast Corruption (2020), is featured in The Economist, The Wire China and The Diplomat. In addition to China, Ang has conducted field research in Cambodia, India, Malaysia, and Nigeria. She holds a PhD from Stanford University. 

Professor Ang’s work aims to bridge relevance and rigor by delivering balanced, evidence-based insights to a broad audience. She has advised the United Nations, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and governments on innovation, inclusive development, China’s development and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). A frequently invited speaker, she has spoken at over 100 venues and high-level dialogues around the world, including at the Asia Society, Bridgewater Associates, Center for Global Development, Council on Foreign Relations, DFID (UK Department of International Development), OECD, UNDP, and World Bank. 

Ang is profiled in The New York Times, The Wire China (pdf), The Diplomat (pdf), CGTN’s Visionaries, Jiemian (界面), CNPolitics (政见), and Pengpai (澎湃). She writes for Foreign Affairs, Project Syndicate, The Wall Street Journal, among others. Foreign Affairs selected her essay “Autocracy with Chinese Characteristics” as among the Best of Print 2018Her work is regularly quoted by the media, including BBC, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, Pengpai, Washington Post, and outlets across Asia and Europe.

How China Escaped the Poverty Trap is the first book to apply complexity and systems thinking to challenge conventional linear models in the political economy of development, with a focus on China’s great transformation since 1978. It received the Peter Katzenstein Prize in Political Economy and the Viviana Zelizer Prize in Economic Sociology. The book has generated cross-disciplinary acclaim: in addition to being named “Best of Books 2017″ by Foreign Affairs, it was reviewed by experts at the World Bank, Oxfam, Harvard Kennedy School, China’s State Council (Premier’s Office), and scholarly journals in political science, economics, history, and China studies. 

Her peer-reviewed articles have appeared in Nature Human Behavior, Journal of Politics, Comparative Politics, The China Quarterly. She has received grants from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), Smith Richardson Foundation, IBM Center for the Business of Government, and a global essay prize from the Gates Foundation. She serves on the advisory board of Cambridge University Press’ Elements Series in the Politics of Development. She is also an external reviewer for the World Bank’s flagship report on poverty in 2020. 

Current Projects

Ang’s recent work examines the impact of China’s rise on the global order and international development. In Project Syndicate‘s special issue on technology, she exposes the “Myth of the Tech Race” by highlighting the different comparative advantages of American and Chinese innovation. She is also analyzing the efficacy of China’s innovation policies using patents data (joint with Nan Jia). In Foreign Affairs, Demystifying China’s Belt and Road,” she explains how fragmented policy implementation and ambiguous communication within China led to confusion in BRI. More recently, she analyzes the politics of COVID-19 in Nature Human Behavior and discusses its implications for the future of global development at a UN-WIDER Webinar.

Her third book project takes her argument in How China Escaped the Poverty Trap across countries. Supported by the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, Ang investigates how new markets emerge under adverse conditions across the Global South – Cambodia, India, and Nigeria – and what it takes to sustain them. Her account challenges dominant narratives that the poor are destined to fail because they lack first-world “good” institutions. 


A citizen of Singapore, Ang is a graduate of Colorado College and Stanford University. Before joining Michigan, she was on the faculty of Columbia University SIPA. Ang’s experience as a cultural nomad deeply shapes her work (see Duncan Green’s blog on bicultural scholars). She grew up in Singapore, was trained and works in the United States, specializes in China, studies other parts of Asia and Africa, and travels around the globe.

Despite being an cultural outsider wherever she goes, she has come to appreciate a simple fact: people everywhere are fundamentally the same.

Featured Lectures 

“How the West (and Beijing) Got China Wrong,” Camden Conference, Feb 22-24, 2019; organized by local volunteers and members of civil society.


“China’s Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Growth and Vast Corruption,” Book Webinar delivered at the UC San Diego China Center, 1 June 2020.


Lecture on “Beijing’s Real Achilles Heel: It’s Not the Slowing Economy,” Fiduciary Investors Symposium, Harvard University, 8 October 2019; attended by many of the world’s largest institutional investors.