Prof. Yaw Nyarko is Professor of Economics at New York University (NYU) and the Director of NYU Africa House, the Center for Technology and Economic Development (CTED), and Co-Director of the Development Research Institute (DRI). As one of the most highly ranked African academic economists in the world, his research interests focus on the areas of economic development, theoretical economics, models of human capital as engines of economic growth, brain drain and skills acquisition, labor economics, and migration. His current research focuses on technology and economic development, commodities exchanges and markets in Africa, and determinants and returns of labor migration from South Asia in the UAE, as well as the impacts of various policy measures on the mobility of labor within the UAE.
He is the former Chair of the Econometric Society Africa Regional Standing Committee. He has served as a consultant to organizations including the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Social Science Research Council. As the former Vice Provost of NYU, he managed a portfolio that included the oversight and establishment of campuses in Abu Dhabi, Accra, and Shanghai. Yaw Nyarko received his B.A. from the University of Ghana and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Cornell University.
In Ghana, a majority of his field research takes place in the rural farming community of Kumawu in the Ashanti Region. His research center in Kumawu houses a team of local Ghanaian research assistants, software developers, and staff who carry out field work in the country. As part of his social responsibility contributions to the community, he has spearheaded the following programs with the Kumawuman Paramount Chief, Queen Mother, and Traditional Council: the Kumawuman Customary Lands Secretariat (KCLS) was created to assist land reforms, settle disputes, and document property rights in a digital database; the Kumawuman Development Investment Trust (KDIT) was created to develop investment opportunities for community projects; the Kumawuman Palace Museum was established to document and preserve cultural heritage and artifacts; and Kumawuman Educational Fund (KEF) was created to provide scholarships to SHS and University students in the region.
Prof. Nyarko's current research focuses on the evaluation and impact of the Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX), which he was integral in spearheading with the GCX leadership and Government of Ghana. In 2017, he was appointed Chairman of the Technical Oversight Committee of the Ghana Commodities Exchange (GCX) on a pro bono basis. His research examines how improved markets for agricultural commodities can transform the agricultural value chain from farmers and their farming systems on the one hand, to firms and their purchasing and planning systems on the other, using Ghana as the principal study area. His belief in the power of sustained, organized, or centralized markets comes from many sources, but primarily through the history of the ingenuity of Ghanaian farmers themselves.
With his research center based on the campus of Tweneboa Kodua Senior High School (TKSHS), he has created several programs with the school headmaster and administration to support learning and education at the community-level. With funding from external donors, he has provided annual TKSHS tuition scholarships (2014-present), supported infrastructure projects at the school, donated computer equipment to the ICT department, and created programs in the arts. Under the theme “A Biography of a People,” the arts programs include supporting a TKSHS art competition to encourage young artists to document local culture through painting and the organization of plays documenting local folklore.
As Chairman of the TKSHS Akyerema Foundation, Prof. Nyarko hopes to inspire TKSHS alumni in Ghana and around the world to engage in supporting the TKSHS headmaster, teachers, and students in the positive growth and developments of the school for generations to come.