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Dr Quoc-Anh Do: “This is really the best place I could aspire to be.”

Dr Quoc Anh Do
Dr Quoc Anh Do

After a long period of changing countries and universities, Associate Professor Quoc-Anh Do joins the department of Economics in January 2023. He looks forward to settling down and exploring the many research opportunities with colleagues in the department.

Dr Quoc-Anh Do – or ‘QA’ as his Anglo-Saxon friends and colleagues usually call him – is originally from Hanoi in Vietnam. That is where he grew up but from his undergraduate years and onwards, he has studied and lived all over the world.

He started out studying maths and engineering at the École Polytechnique in Paris and did another Masters’ degree in statistics and economics at ENSAE.

“In Vietnam I really didn’t have any notion of what we today would call modern Economics, but my engineering school in Paris let me try a lot of things,” he says.

“I have always been interested in social sciences and economics sits right at this intersection between maths, science, and social science.”

After his Masters’ degrees Dr Do had a path in mind to complete a PhD in France. But when he sought out a professor for advice on his future career, his plans changed completely.

“This Professor really pushed me to do a PhD in the US and so I ended up spending six years at Harvard doing a PhD in development economics,” he says.

Once his PhD was complete, Quoc-Anh Do got his first job at Singapore Management University, followed by another stint in Paris at Sciences Po.

For the last few years, he has been a visiting Associate Professor and Fellow at the Ford Center for Global Citizenship at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois.

His research focus is on political economy.

“I work on a broad range of topics in applied microeconomics, especially political economy. It is in the overlap between economics and political science. Some of the issues I’ve studied involve governance and misgovernance such as corruption and favouritism both across and within countries,” he explains.

“More specifically, I’ve investigated the role of capital city locations, and how politicians are likely to favour their hometown regions for infrastructure projects, which contributes to uneven development within a country.

“We’ve shown that this kind of favouritism also happens in non-democratic countries like Vietnam where politicians are not selected by voting, and yet they still favour their home region,” he says.

“In the US, the favouritism is more related to friendship links, and they are stronger at State level politics than at the federal level.

“My explanation is that there is more scrutiny at the federal level so less opportunity for the politicians to favour their friends’ companies for example. Congressmen face a lot of media scrutiny and pay more attention to the consequences. At state level, politicians have more local power to favour local companies.”

QA Do’s broad research interest is a great match with the Monash Department of Economics, and he looks forward to interacting with all his new colleagues. He has formerly conducted lab and field experiments and is keen to get to know both the Experimental Economics group and the Development Economics group.

“There are several people whose research I really love, like Professor Paul Raschky and Professor Sascha Becker whose research interests are close to mine,” he says.

“I am already working with Professor Yves Zenou and I hope to be more active in the Network Economics group with Professor Arthur Campbell. I can’t wait to take part in the reading groups and seminars to get to know everybody.”

You’ve visited Melbourne several times, what do you think of the city so far?

“I’ve already discovered that Australian wine and coffee are great, and I’ve found some Vietnamese friends-of-friends in Melbourne. There’s a lot of Vietnamese culture and food, which is nice,” says Associate Professor Do.

“As a family we like to travel and do road trips, so I think Australia is perfect for that and I look forward to exploring the city.”

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