Sun & Star | How China Escaped the Poverty Trap

Monday, October 30, 2017 (12:00 PM – 1:30 PM)
Tower Center Board Room, Room 227, Carr Collins Hall (map)


How did China escape the poverty trap, transforming from an impoverished planned economy governed by a Maoist bureaucracy to the world’s second largest economy? Was it the opening of markets? A strong authoritarian government? Historical legacies? Join us for lunch Oct. 30 to hear Yuen Yuen Ang’s take on China’s rise.

She argues that the foundation of China’s development lies in its sequence of strategies: the first step out of the poverty trap is, paradoxically, to harness “weak/wrong/backward” institutions to build markets.

This sequence of development in China finds parallels in Western history, which fundamentally challenges the conventional wisdom that “good” (modern-legal) institutions must precede economic development.


Yuen Yuen Ang, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan
Yuen Yuen Ang is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Her research challenges the conventional wisdom that Western-style governance is the only universal standard of good institutions and a prerequisite for economic development, using China as her primary case. Her second line of research is on the design of institutions that foster adaptive development.

Professor Ang is the author of How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (Cornell University Press, Series in Political Economy, 2016), which won the 2017 Peter Katzenstein Book Prize for “outstanding book in international relations, comparative politics, or political economy.” Her book has been presented at various global development venues: World Bank (Washington DC, Malayisa), United Nations (New York), United Nations Development Program (Singapore), International Finance Corporation, Global Integrity, Harvard Kennedy School. Ang received the Eldersveld Prize for outstanding research contributions from the University of Michigan, and is the only winner from Asia of the 2014 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation international essay prize on “The Future of Development Assistance.” This year, she serves on the United Nations Expert Group on Eradicating Poverty.


The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

RegisterIf you are interested in joining the Tower Center Forum, please contact Bora Laci at blaci@smu.edu.


Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program

The Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program aims to increase awareness of the economic, historical, political, and social trends of Japan and East Asia that affect the future of China, Japan, Korea, East Asia, and the world, including the United States.  Through the Sun & Star Symposia and lecture series featuring scholars, practitioners, journalists, and government officials, students and other participants learn about the challenges and opportunities in each country’s domestic politics and economics, the region’s relationship with the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific, and the international relations of the globalized world.

Click here to visit the Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program webpage.

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