Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, June 10, 2019

Award-winning Wang promoted, featured in national media

Associate Professor Yang Wang Associate Professor Yang Wang

It has been a busy spring for La Follette School faculty member Yang Wang. She received a Vilas Early Career Investigator Award, was promoted to associate professor with tenure, and had her research highlighted in the New York Times and other news media.

Wang, who received her master’s degree in international public affairs from the La Follette School in 2003, joined the La Follette School staff in fall 2016 after seven years in the Department of Economics at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. Her primary research interests are in applied microeconomics, health economics, and applied econometrics.

The Early Career Investigator Award from UW–Madison’s Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs provides $75,000 in flexible research funds which may be used for books, research travel, supplies, or similar expenses incurred in pursuit of the faculty member’s scholarly activity. Wang received the award during a campuswide celebration May 8.

La Follette School Director Susan Yackee said the award recognizes Wang’s extraordinary research, excellent teaching, and significant service, including participation as a panelist about social and health policy for a public town hall discussion led by the La Follette School and Wisconsin Alumni Association.

“Professor Wang has established a tremendous research record across a wide variety of vital health policy topics, and the La Follette School is fortunate to have her on our faculty,” Yackee said.

In June, the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents also approved Wang’s promotion to associate professor with tenure. She is a faculty affiliate with UW–Madison’s Center for Demography and Ecology, Center for Demography of Health and Aging, Center for Financial Security, Institute for Research on Poverty, and Risk Management and Insurance Department in the Wisconsin School of Business.

Earlier this spring, the journal Economics & Human Biology published Wang’s research with Muzhe Yang of Lehigh University titled Long Commutes to Work during Pregnancy and Infant Health at Birth. Their research – the first study on the effects of long commutes during pregnancy on infant health – found that increasing the maternal travel distance during pregnancy by 10 miles is associated with increases in the probabilities of low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction by 0.9 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.

“Last fall, a New York Times investigation exposed the devastating cost of pregnancy discrimination on women in physically demanding jobs,” Maya Salam wrote for the New York Times. “Now, a new study has explored the dangers of a long commute on pregnant women and their unborn babies. The longer the commute, the study found, the worse the impact.”

Wang’s research also found suggestive evidence showing that maternal long commutes during pregnancy are also associated with under-utilization of prenatal care.

Other news media outlets that featured Wang’s research include the New York Post, MarketWatch, Good Morning America, Wisconsin Public Radio, and Fortune.