xiao yu wang

Dr. Xiao Yu Wang is the Chief Economist of CRI Foundation, and was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Duke University from 2013-2022. 

As Chief Economist, she uses her expertise in evidence-backed policymaking and rigorous research to ensure that CRI Foundation awards grants that maximize the return-for-cost of innovations that reduce poverty and generate novel, high-quality evidence. She also acts as a research consultant and works with grantees to improve their programs and evaluations. In addition, she supports USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) by providing expertise and guidance on funding decisions and evidence generation.

As a researcher, her interdisciplinary work spans development economics and microeconomic theory and broadly addresses questions around economic design within traditional and non-traditional markets. For example, she has developed empirically-testable models and taken the predictions to data in order to study the determinants, structure, and impacts of incentives, systems, and organizations, often within settings characterized by unconventional features. She is especially interested in how problematic design generates and perpetuates socioeconomic inequality, and how these insights can be used to improve social, political, and financial organizations and systems. Her interest in topics is wide-ranging and includes the impact of bias on decision-making, intimate partner violence and child marriage, the impact of political institutions on outcomes, informal employment, and the ways in which existing economic models help and hinder us in developing policy around new technologies.

Dr. Wang has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University and Yale University. She was a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economics Research (DEV) from 2014-2022 (and would be reinstated upon a return to academia). She also served as the inaugural Director of Operations for the China Econ Lab. She received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2013, where she was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and her B.A. with honors in economics, with honors in mathematics, and with honors in the liberal arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008. Once, she was voted Best Actress by a worryingly wide margin for her complex portrayal of a corpse among the guests at a funeral.

Dr. Wang is from a small town in central Wisconsin. Yes, really.