Assistant Professor

Yang-Yang Zhou received her PhD from the Politics Department at Princeton University in 2019. Her work is motivated by questions surrounding national identity, conflict, and development in the context of migration.

Her book project examines the political and economic effects of refugees and other displaced populations on local host communities. She develops a theory in which host citizens who are more exposed to refugees identify with their national identity more strongly and mobilize for better public goods provision. Compared to conventional state-led nation-building efforts, this argument highlights the role of migration as an alternative pathway to national identity formation and development. To test this theory, she combines georeferenced public goods data with survey experiments, community focus groups, and interviews with government and humanitarian aid officials, largely in Tanzania. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation.

Additionally, Zhou designs and experimentally evaluates development interventions. This includes a randomized controlled trial of economic interventions conducted in wartime Afghanistan, and a series of experimental studies to understand the link between citizen self-efficacy and public goods participation in rural East Africa. Since this type of research often requires asking sensitive survey questions, she also develops statistical methods to protect respondent privacy and safety, which has been published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association.

Prior to Princeton, Zhou worked for the Program for Survivors of Torture at Bellevue Hospital in New York as a social work case manager. Aside from her extensive field work in Tanzania, Zhou has conducted field work in Ghana, Bahrain, Senegal, and Benin.  She received a B.A. in International Relations, Anthropology, and African Studies at NYU.

From 2021 to 2023, Zhou will be a Harvard Academy Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

Design and Analysis of the Randomized Response Technique.” (with Graeme Blair and Kosuke Imai). Journal of the American Statistical Association, Volume: 110, Issue: 511 (Sept. 2015)