Qin Gao

Qin Gao

Research Interest

Poverty, inequality, social policy, and economic and subjective well-being in China and their international comparisons; Rural-to-urban migration in China and Asian American immigrants; International social and economic development; International program and impact evaluation.

Qin Gao is a leading authority on China’s social welfare system and the founding director of Columbia University’s China Center for Social Policy, the first research center of its kind within a school of social work.

Qin Gao is Professor of Social Policy and Social Work and Associate Dean for Doctoral Education at the Columbia University School of Social Work and the Founding Director of the Columbia China Center for Social Policy. Dr. Gao studies poverty, inequality, social policy, migration, and child development in China and their international comparisons. She currently leads The State of Chinese Americans Survey and is a member of the New York City Longitudinal Survey of Wellbeing study research team. She is also on the faculty of the Committee on Global Thought and Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University and a Public Intellectual Fellow of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. Qin Gao’s book, Welfare, Work, and Poverty: Social Assistance in China (Oxford University Press, 2017) presents a systematic evaluation of the world’s largest social welfare program, Dibao. Her co-edited book, China Urbanizing: Impacts and Transitions (Penn Press, 2022), captures China’s urbanization in its historical and regional variations and explores its multifaceted impacts. Dr. Gao’s work has been supported by multiple national and international funding sources such as the Asian Development Bank, UNICEF, and the World Bank.

Dr. Gao holds a BA from China Youth University of Political Studies (China), an MA from Peking University (China), and an MPhil and PhD from the Columbia School of Social Work. She has been interviewed by media outlets such as the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs; the Council on Foreign Relations; and SupChina’s Sinica Podcast.




Gao, Q. & Zhai, F. (2019). Symposium on Gender, Migration, and Human Development in East Asia. Journal of Asian Public Policy, 12(2).

Gao, Q., Zhang, Y. & Zhai, F. (2019). Special Issue on Social Assistance in China: Impact Evaluation and Policy Implications. China: An International Journal, 17(1).

Gao, Q. (2017). Welfare, Work and Poverty: Social Assistance in China. Oxford University Press.