yuen yuen ang 

Short bio: Yuen Yuen Ang (洪源远) is the Alfred Chandler Chair of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University. A cross-disciplinary political economist and China scholar with a cross-cultural background, Ang's work has been recognized for both its intellectual and public impact. She has received awards from multiple social sciences: political science, economics, and sociology. She is the author of two acclaimed books, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (2016) and China's Gilded Age (2020), both featured in The Economist and described as "game-changing." Apolitical named her among the world's 100 Most Influential Academics in Government. Ang has been profiled in American, Chinese, Indonesian, and European outlets. 

Research & teaching: In 2023, Ang joined Johns Hopkins University as the first named chair of the Center for Economy & Society—funded by the Hewlett Foundation for “research focusing on alternatives to traditional economic thinking”—the SNF Agora Institute (established with the mission of strengthening global democracy), and Department of Political Science. She is the inaugural recipient of the Theda Skocpol Prize for Emerging Scholar, awarded by the American Political Science Association (APSA) for “impactful contributions to the study of comparative politics.” Her books have received the Peter Katzenstein Prize (political economy), Viviana Zelizer Prize (economic sociology), Douglass North Award (institutional economics), Alice Amsden Award (socio-economics), and Barrington Moore Prize (honorable mention, historical sociology). She was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow for “high-caliber scholarship that applies fresh perspectives to the most pressing issues of our times.” Her new research is supported by the US National Science Foundation and Canada's SSHRC. She serves or served on multiple editorial and award committees, including at APSA, American Sociology Association, Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, The China Quarterly, World Politics. Ang is also an award-winning teacher. 

Public engagement: In 2021, Apolitical (a UK-based learning platform) named Ang among the world's 100 Most Influential Academics in Government for "research that resonates with policymakers and has the potential to steer the direction of government," based on nominations from policymakers and public servants. She writes for broad audiences in Boston Review, Foreign Affairs, Project Syndicate, The New York Times, to name a few. Foreign Affairs named her writing among the "Best of Books" and "Best of Print." She has been profiled in American, Chinese, Indonesian, and European outlets, including CGTN's Visionaries, Die Zeit, Endgame, Freakonomics, The Ezra Klein Show (NYT), Dushu (读书), Jiemian (界面), Pengpai (澎湃), among others. Ang is frequently invited to speak to academic, business, civil society, and policy communities around the world, from Africa, China, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Southeast Asia to North America. She has advised multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and UNDP, development agencies, and companies on development, innovation, and navigating China in a time of geopolitical tensions.


Background: Multiculturalism, nomadism, and marginality have had a formative influence on Ang's scholarship and engagement. Ang is a cultural nomad: A native of Singapore, she received a transformative liberal arts education at Colorado College and her PhD at Stanford University, lives and works in the United States, studies China and other emerging economies, and speaks around the world. She is also a intellectual nomad, traversing across academic, policy, and corporate boundaries, and selectively taking threads from political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, and history. Growing up in Singapore, she was a misfit who ranked at the bottom of class, with a penchant for identifying that the official questions are wrong. 

Ang's work is known for challenging multiple orthodoxies in political economy, and she is committed to promoting balanced, evidential discourse on US-China relations in the midst of great power competition and ideological divisions. As a woman and minority, she strives to raise awareness about structural inequalities and hidden biases in academic and elite circles. Her marginality - never completely belonging anywhere - is her deep well of creativity and empathy, pushing her to see the world through multiple cultural lenses and communicating with diverse audiences in humanizing ways. 


"Like Skocpol, her work pushes us to rethink existing theories, concepts, and categories in comparative politics." 

~ APSA Theda Skocpol Prize Committee ~ 

"How China Escaped the Poverty Trap truly offers game-changing ideas... and should have a major impact across many social sciences." 

~ ASA Viviana Zelizer Book Award ~ 

"A field-shifting move to non-linear complex processes" 

~ Peter Katzenstein Book Award ~ 

"Yuen Yuen Ang’s eclectic intellectual and methodological approach ensures the book’s appeal to a broad interdisciplinary audience." 

~ SASE Alice Amsden Book Award ~ 

"This outstanding book has already made substantial waves in academia and in policy circles."

~ SIOE Douglass North Book Award ~ 

"A China scholar at Johns Hopkins University, who’s done pioneering work on understanding China’s political system... [Her perspective] has pretty profound implications. Or at least, it is an interesting way of thinking about how we are governed here [in the United States]." 

~ Ezra Klein, The New York Times ~ 

"One of the most powerful and fascinating pieces we’ve done in some time.” 

~ Stephen Dubner, on Ang's interview in Freakonomics Radio ~ 

“I am perhaps a simple woman, not particularly scholarly but I recognize quality work and discussion when I see it or hear it.”

“It was so consuming I had to simply stop my car and sit there listening.”

Probably the thing I appreciate the most is your willingness to step back, look at the paradigms and ask, can we do better?" 

~ Listeners of Ang's episode on Freakonomics ~ 


Review of How China Escaped the Poverty Trap by Zhao Shukai, Development Research Center at the State Council (in Chinese)

Named by Apolitical among the 100 Most Influential Academics in Government, nominated by policymakers and public servants

Interview, philosophy page of Die Zeit, "How American is China?" (German)

Interview with Ezra Klein (NYT), "There's been a revolution in how China is governed" (2023).

selected lectures

"How the West - and Beijing - Got China Wrong," Ted-like Talk at Camden (2019)

"The Real China Model: What Other Developing Countries Should Learn from China," Keynote Lecture at UN/UNDP Cambodia (2018)

Panel on "China's Economic Rise - End of the Road?," Council on Foreign Relations (2022)

Book talk, "China's Gilded Age," Princeton University, (2021)

featured interviews

Print interview, Project Syndicate, March 2021

Podcast interview, The Economist's Money Talks, September 2021 

Podcast interview with Stephen Dubner on Freakonomics (NPR), November 2021

Interview in Chinese, 政见, June 2020 (viewed 17 million times)


Mailing Address | Johns Hopkins University, SNF Agora Institute, Wyman Park Building, N325, Baltimore, MD 21218

Office | Room 558V, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC (beginning Sep 2023)

For speaking engagements, please email: yuen.yuen.ang[at]jhu.edu