Nancy Qian is the James J. O'Connor Professor at Kellogg MEDS and a professor of the Department of Economics by courtesy appointment. Nancy is a native of Shanghai, China, holds a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT, was a Harvard University Academy Scholar post-doctoral fellow, and an Associate Professor at the Dept. of Economics at Yale University prior to Kellogg.
Professor Qian's research uses data to understand the determinants of economic development. Her work lies on the intersection of economic development, political economy, and economic history in studying the causes and consequences of formal institutions, such as elections, and cultural norms, such as gender preference and racial identity. She uses theory-driven frameworks and empirical evidence to resolve historical puzzles, such as the causes of the Great Chinese and Soviet Famines, or the presence of local democracy within autocratic regimes. Her work spans many current and historical contexts such as China, the United States, former Eastern Bloc countries and sub-Saharan Africa.
She is passionate about using research to address real-world problems and using higher education to encourage the personal and intellectual developments of students. At Northwestern, she has taught classes for MBAs (fulltime, evening and weekend, MSMS), EMBAs, and Ph.D. students. Prior to Northwestern, she also taught undergraduates.
Her work has been published in top academic journals and featured in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio. She is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, as well the recipient of many prestigious awards and grants. She serves in several editorial positions and has consulted for agencies such as The World Bank, the Global Development Network and the China Development Bank.
She regularly attends workshops in development economics, political economy, and is the co-organizer of the economic history seminar. She founded China Econ Lab, an independent international organization that promotes rigorous research about the Chinese Economy, and the China Cluster for Northwestern's Global Poverty Research Lab, for which she is co-director. She regularly contributes opinion columns for outlets such as Bloomberg or Project Syndicate, appears on news outlets such NPR and CNN, and is working on her first book, which is planned for publication in 2023 with the University of Chicago Press.
In her spare time, she likes to cook for her family and friends, sail, ski, read, and binge streaming shows. She is a fan of Tom Brady, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer and Elena Ribyakina.