profile
Rachel Ngai

BSc(ECON)

 

Professor of Economics

Imperial College London 

profile
Rachel Ngai

BSc(ECON)

 

Professor of Economics

Imperial College London 

TRANSVERSING ECONOMICS ACROSS CONTINENTS

Graduating from HKUST with a BSc in Economics, Rachel Ngai is currently a Professor of Economics at the Imperial College London. Her research focuses on macroeconomics—and more specifically, growth and development, structural transformation, labor markets and housing markets. "I like to look at economics from a personal experience. It is a big part of the motivation to finding out what's behind the changes in the world we live in," she adds.

Income and wealth inequality is one of the great socioeconomic challenges of our time, and a subject Rachel is well-versed in. She explains, “Improving educational and health equality would reduce welfare inequality. This requires greater government spending, which in turn calls for tax hikes, a massive political liability in most countries.”

A talented and diligent student, Rachel graduated from HKUST with a number of scholarships and awards. As an undergraduate, she studied at University of Pennsylvania as an exchange student, eventually culminating in a fellowship for postgraduate studies at the Ivy League institution. Rachel returned to HKUST as a visiting associate professor at the economics department in 2010 and as a senior research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies during 2014.

Studies and work has taken Rachel across three continents, and she credits HKUST for providing a rich and diverse culture during her student days. She remarked, “It was phenomenal to meet professors and students from every corner of the globe. HKUST was a very new institution during the mid-1990s, and the university attracted lots of open-minded and intellectually curious people.”

Rachel has very fond memories of HKUST; having suffered a difficult childhood, she had needed to start work early to support her studies and it was when she won a scholarship to attend HKUST that her life started to turn around. She has nothing but praise for her alma mater: "We had a lot of guidance, plus a lot of freedom to challenge ourselves in our studies. That was wonderful, and really spurred our personal and academic development."