Political economy of development, comparative politics, urban governance, informality & innovation
Ying Gao is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at MIT, where she is also a Graduate Research Fellow at MIT Governance Lab, and studies political economy and comparative politics. Her dissertation research examines citizen-state relations in urban contexts of development through the lens of urban informality, focusing on how informal housing communities shape governance through collective action, public goods, and subjective perceptions of what it means to participate in politics. She looks at these questions using an array of observational and quasi experimental methods, and at global and local scales, leveraging cross-national public opinion data, and administrative, spatial, and survey data from Indonesia. Some of Ying’s other research projects explore the influence of platform economy and innovative labor organizing in developed and developing economies, migration-induced ethnic diversity and public goods, and informal accountability, among other interests.
Ying holds a master's in city planning from MIT, and a bachelor's in foreign service from Georgetown University. Before pursuing a Ph.D. she was experienced in international development and project management, most recently working in the areas of regional development at Development Bank of Japan, and sustainable urban policy, urban youth policy, and partnerships at UN-Habitat in Bangkok and across Asia-Pacific.