Education is the biggest driver of social mobility in modern societies, especially as the returns to higher education have increased sharply since the 1970s, coincident with a widening in income inequality, increased market deregulation and augmented international capital mobility — the former, it is argued by some, is a consequence …


Multiculturalism and integration: Political borders are increasingly becoming irrelevant through globalisation and mass migration. This has led to many benefits as well as challenges to our society. Some countries are struggling to integrate immigrants into the mainstream society and this has sparked an intense debate throughout western democracies, which have …

Income inequality

The economics and politics of income distribution: How society divides its wealth amongst its members is at the core of economics (and politics).  It is generally taken for granted that more equal distributions are, ceteris paribus, more desirable for society.  (This is also a natural corollary given dimishing marginal utility …

Monetary policy

What is monetary policy? Monetary policy is the means by which a state’s monetary authority (typically a central bank) controls the supply of money (often by means of being the monopoly supplier of fiat money and also by its ability to influence or enforce how financial institutions (e.g. banks) extend …

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Kai L. Chan

Welcome / Bienvenue / 歡迎 / Willkommen / Приветствие:

Thank you for visiting my site. I am an economics/finance/policy professional currently based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I grew up in Toronto, Canada and was educated at the University of Toronto (BSc) and Princeton University (MA, PhD). Before moving to Dubai, I worked in New York City (finance) and Singapore (consulting). Although my background may sound prima facie like that of many Ivy League graduates, until recently my life experiences were solidly humble and spartan.

Business Report for the University of Toronto.  Photo courtesy of Dave Chan (

About me and this site:

I was literally born on the streets of rural Guangdong province to peasant parents in communist China. My family moved to Canada when I was four years old with little more than the clothes on our back and an electric rice cooker. I spent the next 20 years in Toronto, which were formidable as my family was poor and we had little cultural capital to guide us in our new country. (Neither of my parents studied beyond primary school and were mostly absent from my upbringing.) Before my eighteenth birthday I was arrested twice and had dropped out of high school. Nevertheless, I eventually gained admission into one of Canada’s elite universities (University of Toronto (Trinity College)) and then went on to receive a PhD in economics from Princeton University, where my supervisor was (future Nobel laureate) Paul Krugman.

My path from poverty to a Princeton PhD is an almost unreal story about luck, talent and unusual circumstances. ((1) I graduated from a high school where earlier in my teenage years I was told by the vice principal responsible for my file upon trying to re-enrol: “The day you get back inside this school is the day I quit!”… He was on sick leave the year I returned. (2) My entire preparation for the GRE graduate school admission test consisted of $30 spent on a used copy of a GRE study guide and one week’s time of studying.) At the nadir of my life (young adult) I ate rotten vegetables tossed away by local food wholesalers and discarded chicken bones that I collected from a fried chicken shop. I am now an economics / finance / policy professional having lived and worked in East Asia, Europe, Middle East and North America, and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle where I mingle with the Ivy League crowd. My life has thus been one of contrasts, breaking stereotypes about education, ethnicity / race and socioeconomic status. (See: “From poverty to Princeton PhD.“)

My values and perspective on life have been profoundly shaped by my experiences; my background allows me to view the world through a unique lens that enables me to inject fresh insights into the complex debates about the economy, education, immigration and politics. I hope to thus be a catalyst for frank discussions about matters important to our society.

This site is a repository of all the formal writings and media from me, as well as a place for me to provide brief notes on some topics dear to me for which I wish to share my thoughts and educate the public.

Contact me:

I would love to hear from you if you have thoughts, opinions, critiques or general feedback on any of the content on this website.

To send me an e-mail:

Kai L. Chan
Dubai,  2015




3rd Annual Smart Data Summit puts the spotlight on big data-driven innovation

23 May 2016

In a bid to stay competitive, companies across industries are generating a significant amount of data and utilizing different tools and techniques to gain useful insights. Against this backdrop, the Smart Data Summit that commenced today explored how organizations can harness the power of big data and analytics to derive …

Data science: how is it good for government?

15 May 2016

By Tala El Issa via (15 May, 2016) All those zeros and ones – how can you make the most of them? (Image via “Understanding and innovating with data has the potential to change the way we do almost anything for the better,” said Barack Obama at the …

Managing in today’s economy

28 Mar 2016

At Institute of Management Technology Dubai, a panel of experts discussed management strategies for today’s economy BY JEANETTE TEH | COMMENT | PUBLISHED: 28TH MARCH 2016 AT 12:53 Navigating the current times of uncertainty with low oil prices, a slowdown in economic growth, and geopolitical crises can provide challenges for …

Need to look deeper into UAE’s global rankings

24 Mar 2016

Decline in some key indexes fails to account for marked progress made elsewhere By Dr. Sami Mahroum and Dr. Kai L. Chan, Special to Gulf News Published: 07:24 March 23, 2016 With 2015 left behind and the new year ahead, it is a good time to pause and take stock …

Emirates Business interview/profile

5 Feb 2016

Web link: (Success lies in smart strategies (4 Feb 2016))

Letters: Germans are too ‘timid’ to state the obvious

12 Jan 2016

Re: This Is Rape Culture, Robyn Urback, Jan. 8. A popular expression defines insanity as “doing something over and over again and expecting different results.” So it has been with the migrant crisis in Europe. I lived adjacent to the Cologne train station when I was a summer intern at …

World Strategy Summit concludes in Abu Dhabi

18 Nov 2015

ABU DHABI, 18th November 2015 (WAM) – Participants at the World Strategy Summit, which was held under the theme of ‘Strategic Leadership for the Future’, emphasized the importance of establishing an international platform for strategy, leadership, and innovation. This platform would contribute to building governmental and business sector leadership and …

Trudeau Cabinet reflects more diversity in new House

16 Nov 2015

Trudeau Cabinet reflects more diversity in new House By CHRISTOPHER GULY | Published: Monday, 11/16/2015 12:00 am EST While women represent half of the 30-member Cabinet, they only account for 27 per cent of the Liberal caucus, or 50 of the record 88 female MPs elected from all five parties …

A cabinet that reflects Canada

7 Nov 2015

Letter to the Toronto Star Published November 7, 2015 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to be lauded for his commitment to a diverse cabinet, but gender is only one dimension of diversity. Although the minority share of cabinet posts (23 per cent) closely mirrors their share of Canada’s population (26 per cent), …

The six workforce challenges you must tackle now

1 Oct 2015

The six workforce challenges you must tackle now Author: Mark Townsend Something is stirring in the GCC. The flatlining oil price and the newfound maturity of many local economies are forcing organisations to think afresh about their business models, and to call time on the era of short-term, expat-reliant workforces …

Expats’ right to vote

2 Aug 2015

Letter to the Globe & Mail Published August 1, 2015 Many of those who left Canada did so for professional reasons in a labour market that is increasingly globalized. They still hold deep ties to Canada; indeed, each expat is an unofficial diplomat for the country in their (temporarily) adopted …

Replace this archaic institution with a citizens’ senate

15 Jun 2015

Replace this archaic institution with a citizens’ senate CLAUDIA CHWALISZ Contributed to The Globe and Mail Published Monday, Jun. 15, 2015 3:00AM EDT With the expenses scandal and the unpopular Bill C-51 being passed, the Canadian Senate has recently come under fire from the New Democratic Party and the Greens. …