Senior Sociologist to Lead New Research Center
September 15, 2020

Wu Xiaogang, an internationally recognized sociologist in Chinese inequality and social stratification, will join the faculty this fall as the Yufeng Global Professor of Social Science, NYU Professor of Sociology, and founding director of the Center for Applied Social and Economic Research (CASER), a new center committed to advancing social and economic research in China for the betterment of society. NYU Shanghai will host an official launch for the center on November 18, 2020.  

CASER will convene scholars from NYU Shanghai, NYU’s Global Network and around the world to support rigorous empirical analyses of issues related to child development, education, health, housing, inequality and poverty, migration, population aging, and urban governance, particularly in the context of China’s emerging metropolises. The center will also create or disseminate comprehensive and longitudinal databases on cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen, and use empirical research to inform public policy on the most pressing issues in China’s social and economic development.

“Quantitative social science research is often criticized in China for its lack of local specifics and insightful interpretation,” Wu said. “At CASER, we will aim to promote research rooted in Chinese society and culture, with forward-looking questions, delicate design, and cutting-edge methods, and social impact.”

The goal, Wu said, is for CASER at NYU Shanghai to become a leading center for social science research on contemporary China. The Center will host the editorial office of the Chinese Sociological Review, published since 1968. Through lecture series and colloquia, research workshops, summer programs, and continued public engagement, the Center will connect social scientists and young scholars with the communities they serve. CASER will also provide opportunities for post-doctoral research, enabling early-career scholars to work alongside CASER faculty in the global network.  

Professor Wu arrives from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), where he was a Chair Professor of Social Science and Public Policy and had spent 17 years teaching and conducting research. 

“I am thrilled to be back in Shanghai after spending more than two decades living and working in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. I always view Shanghai as my home.” Wu said.  “I witnessed firsthand the city’s rise to a global metropolis. I wish to draw on my decade-long experience in studying Hong Kong to start new research on Shanghai. I look forward to continuing my ‘Tale of Two Cities’.

Wu returns to Shanghai after spending the 2017-18 academic year at NYU Shanghai as  Visiting Professor of Sociology. “I was deeply impressed by the NYU Shanghai undergraduates. They are brilliant, diligent, and eager to learn new knowledge. Choosing NYU Shanghai gives me more opportunities to cultivate promising students right from their undergraduate years,” Wu said. “This is an international university that offers a perfect environment for scholars to conduct the first-rate China research that could have both local reach and global impact.”

A native of Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, Wu has spent his early career studying the social consequences of China’s economic transition since 1978.  Over the past decade, he launched and successfully led the Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics (HKPSSD),” the first city-wide household panel study in Hong Kong to track social and economic changes in Hong Kong and their impacts on individuals. He has also led the design of the Shanghai Urban Neighborhood Survey (SUNS) based at Shanghai University, and the Beijing College Students Panel Survey (BCSPS) based at Renmin University of China.

Wu has published more than 60 articles in leading sociological journals such as Annual Review of SociologyAmerican Sociological Review, American Journal of SociologySocial ForcesDemographySocial Science Research, as well as journals in interdisciplinary and China studies. He has received numerous competitive research grants, fellowships, and honors in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States, and Europe. 

In addition to serving on the editorial board of many international peer-reviewed journals, Wu has been the Chief Editor of the Chinese Sociological Review since 2011. He is currently the President of the International Chinese Sociological Association (ICSA).

From 2020-24, Wu will serve as a Global Scholar at Princeton University

Wu earned a bachelor’s degree from Renmin University, a master’s from Peking University, and a PhD from University of California, Los Angeles. He began his academic career as an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  In the 1990s, he served on the research and speech writing staff of the Mayor of Shanghai.    

“Wu Xiaogang’s distinctive accomplishments, combined with his strong leadership experience and reputation throughout the world, ideally prepare him to take the helm at NYU Shanghai CASER during this unprecedented time,” said Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen. “I look forward to the many contributions he will make to our university’s growing community of teachers and scholars.”  

Prof. Wu’s Yufeng Global Professorship is endowed by entrepreneur and NYU Trustee, Feng Lun, founder of Yufeng Capital.

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