Visiting Scholar Candice Yandam Shares her Background and Projects Year at Columbia

January 15, 2019

Candice Yandam, a Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University is a visiting scholar at the Columbia School of Social Work and the Columbia China Center for Social Policy from March 1st to May 31st, 2019. She shared her background, interests, and Columbia expectations in a recent written interview.


What led you to your career as an academic and researcher?

It would be difficult to pinpoint one specific reason why I became so interested in research. When I was an undergraduate student in economics, I had no clue that I would eventually pursue doctoral studies. My academic experience as a whole helped shape my interest.

At first, I chose economics because I loved both the theoretical work and its practical applications. I was fortunate to be surrounded by exceptional professors. Thanks to them, I gained first-hand understanding of how research in economics can make a positive contribution well beyond the world of academia.

Later, I discovered that research is also a humbling process, one that leads to a fascinating journey of continuous questioning and reevaluating. This process vividly comes to light during research seminars or workshops, where researchers engage in constructive exchanges and foster collaborative work.

What are your main research areas and interests?

I have a very keen interest in the relationship between regulations, policies, and economic development. In labor economics, there is a divide between scholars supporting strengthening labor laws and those advocating for more flexibility and less regulation. I have been trying to contribute to this debate through my research.

Specifically, in my dissertation, I examine the impact of labor regulations – with varying degrees of flexibility – on social welfare, employment, and economic performance in various countries. One element of my dissertation is to analyze the Labor Contract Law reform in China and its effects on workers’ welfare and China’s economic development. I also focus on the United States and study how and to what extent the differences among state labor regulations impact employment flows and economic performance.

Can you briefly introduce your home institution?

My home institution is the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Most commonly referred to as the Sorbonne, Paris 1 is actually descendant of this historic public university, which was dissolved in the 1960s. Since its inception, Paris 1 has been specialized in law, economics, social sciences, and arts. Paris 1 is one of France's largest public universities, hosting about 40,000 students and more than 1,000 professors. It is also a very important center for research, with more than 300 Ph.D. dissertations defended annually. At the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, I am affiliated with the Sorbonne Center for Economics of the Sorbonne School of Economics. With about 100 professors and researchers, it is one of France's largest research centers dedicated to economics.

What aspects of being a visiting scholar at Columbia are exciting to you?

I am thrilled to be a visiting scholar at Columbia! The research team at the Columbia China Center for Social Policy does incredible work towards fighting poverty and acting on social welfare in China and I am excited to join them for a few months. I am also eager to benefit from Prof. Qin Gao’s expertise in China's welfare system.

What makes Columbia so special is the depth and breadth of its academic offerings. At Columbia, I hope to be able to meet researchers from the University's diverse schools and to attend the seminars they offer.

What are your main research activities during your stay at Columbia and in NYC?

One of the key topics of my dissertation is the study of the regulation of labor contracts in China. In 2008, China made a big step forward by promulgating the Labor Contract Law, which seeks to improve the working conditions of employees by requiring that all employment relationships be formalized in a written contract. This legislation has had positive effects on workers' income and insurance participation.

During my stay at Columbia, I will be working on this labor law reform with Prof. Qin Gao. Specifically, I will work with her on developing a suitable methodology to examine the effects of increases in insurance participation and income on the possible reduction in inequality and their potential contributions to China’s economic development.

Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy