Mingge Wu Receives First Ph.D. in Economics from Georgia Tech

Mingge Wu, a recent graduate from the School of Economics, became the first doctoral candidate to receive a Ph.D. in Economics from Georgia Tech in May 2014. She now works as a senior statistician for InterContinental Hotels Group after receiving master’s and Ph.D. degrees, both in economics, from Georgia Tech.


I earned my B.S. and B.A. in Applied Math and Economics from Wuhan University in China, where I grew up. I came to Georgia Tech in 2008 to continue my study in economics as a master’s student. I encountered an interesting topic in the arguments on cost benefits regarding environmental regulations, in particular how governments in developing countries balance economic growth and environmental concerns. My interest in the topic carried over into my Ph.D. work here.

Why Economics at GT?

Even though my undergraduate education provided me with a solid background in economic theory, I had no real clear ideas about what economic research looks like. My research interests became motivated by the coursework in the master’s program I completed here at Georgia Tech, which taught me how various fields differ from and interact with each other. I then decided to pursue more as a Ph.D. student.

The Ph.D. in Economics program provided me with rich resources related to research. I had the opportunity to work with professors in math, business, public policy, industrial engineering and environmental engineering.  Few programs combine economics, engineering, and public policy into such a well-organized package. The program is small, and everyone works closely with each other, meaning professors are all very helpful and the students’ voices will always be heard. I worked in particular with my advisor, Tibor Besedes, along with Usha Nair-Reichert and Eric Johnson.


My research examined the interactions between international trade and environmental regulations motivated by the pollution haven hypothesis, which states that when seeking to set up factories abroad, large industrialized nations will often look for the cheapest option in terms of resources and labor.  This often means sending production to developing nations with less stringent environmental regulations, reducing pollution control.

In particular, my dissertation (available here) looked at how environmental regulations affect international bilateral trade flows. It showed that imports will increase for European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) members for dirty industries while exports decrease. Additionally, membership in EU ETS changes firms’ foreign direct investment decisions. According to my theoretical model, both inward and outward foreign direct investment in dirty industries decreases for EU ETS members.


Teaching the undergraduate principle economics course was one of my greatest experiences at Georgia Tech. As a non-native English speaker, it was a challenge to teach 150 students with a diverse set of backgrounds at one time. It forced me to think about economics from an outsider’s perspective.

Ivan Allen College

Students in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts are set apart and differ from their counterparts in other liberal arts and social sciences colleges in both the technical education they receive in addition to their liberal arts studies and the high reputation of Georgia Tech as an exemplary research institution.


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