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 CRI's partnership with USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) by providing expertise and guidance on funding decisions and evidence generation.
As a researcher, her work spans development economics and microeconomic theory. Specifically, she develops empirically-testable models and takes the predictions to data in order to study the determinants, structure, and impacts of incentives, systems, and organizations in the unique environments of developing economies. She is especially interested in how these factors generate and perpetuate socioeconomic inequality, and how these insights can be used to improve organizational design across social, political, and financial spheres. Her interest in topics is wide-ranging, and includes intimate partner violence, child marriage, bias and its dynamic perpetuation, gender wage gaps, political institutions, and the relationship between informal and formal sectors. She also studies institutions which influence the production and transmission of information, such as media and credit registries, as well as markets in which traditional price mechanisms fail.
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.