Nhan Le


Assistant Professor



Educational Background

PhD, Indiana University - Bloomington

I am...

… a researcher and teacher in economics.

Economics is an insightful and surprising way to look at the world we live in. For example, economists realize that greed in itself is neither good nor bad for society. On one hand, greed is the driver that motivates revolutionary innovations such as James Watt’s steam engine and IBM’s personal computer. On the other hand, as the financial meltdown of 2008 demonstrated, unfettered individual greed can lead to collective economic self-destruction. Thus, economic research focuses not on alleviating greed, but on how to build and improve social institutions that most optimally align private desires with social interest.

Training in economics opens up opportunities not only in businesses, but also in governments and increasingly in non-governmental organizations in various fields such as health care, education, and social justice. Economics graduates are recognized for their ability to identify and solve real world problems by conducting quantitatively rigorous research. They are also trained to effectively communicate complex ideas to a broad audience from diverse backgrounds. As international integration continues to accelerate, economics has been increasingly recognized as an essential tool kit for a global citizen. 

I believe that my role as a teacher is to help grow students from all backgrounds into life-long learners. With economics, it starts with inspiring students to think about some of the most important challenges facing our society today: inequality, economic growth, environmental protection, poverty, global economic integration, fiscal and monetary policy…

In presenting economic techniques as competing solutions for these big challenges, my effort is two-fold: First, I create a learning environment for students based on problem-solving, autonomy, and collaboration. Second, I act as a facilitator to help students overcome technical difficulties and evaluate their own progress. 

The highest goal of learning - the most rewarding learning experience - is to find a novel idea and demonstrate that it could help shed light on and find new solutions for a problem of practical concern. In the framework of higher education, this process is formalized in a senior project. I am committed to identifying potential students for senior projects as early as their first year, supporting them as they grow into the major, and help them finalize the projects for presentation by the beginning of their fourth year. 


Assistant Professor

My career at Alma began in


I'm an expert in

Macroeconomics, economic growth and inequality.

My expertise:

My research focuses on macroeconomic questions of inequality and economic growth. In my Doctoral thesis (submitted for review), I study the cause of the stagnation in wage earnings for middle-class workers in the United States. In the age of computerization and accelerating globalization, it is a puzzle for economists that middle-class wages stagnate not only relative to the highest earners but also relative to the lowest earners. My research documents workers’ interaction with the computerization process to demonstrate that it is workers’ cognitive and social abilities - not just their formal education attainment - that help them adapt to the digital workplace. Thus, workers with lower level of abilities suffer as the economy adjusts to computerization despite their formal education attainment.

Currently, I am working with a group of collaborators to study the impact of fiscal policy on economic growth in Southeast Asia. The first draft is expected later this summer.

Signature course(s):

Intro and Intermediate Macroeconomics, Applied Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences, Economics of Inequality