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Donald Low


IEMS Research Areas

Short Bio

Donald Low is Senior Lecturer and Professor of Practice at the HKUST Institute for Public Policy, as well as Director of Leadership and Public Policy Executive Education (LAPP) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He is an accomplished consultant and lecturer in economics and behavioural economics, decision-making and risk analysis, inequality and social policy, complexity in public policy, organisational behaviour, and the politics and governance of Singapore.

Donald has served in or consulted with public, private, higher education and non-profit organisations. Prior to his current appointment, Donald was the Associate Dean for Executive Education and Research at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. Besides leading the School’s executive education department, he also headed its case study unit. Donald also served nearly 15 years in the Singapore government as a member of the Administrative Service. During that time, he established the Centre for Public Economics at the Civil Service College to advance economics literacy in Singapore public service. He also held senior positions at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Division.

Donald is the editor of Behavioural Economics and Policy Design: Examples from Singapore (2011), a pioneering book which details how the Singapore government has applied ideas from behavioural economics in a number of policy domains. His best-selling 2014 book, Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus, raises searching questions about the long-term viability of many aspects of governance in Singapore. He argues that a far-reaching rethinking of the country’s policies and institutions is needed in light of new socioeconomic, demographic and political realities. Such rethinking is necessary even if weakens the very consensus that enabled Singapore to succeed in its first 50 years.

Donald holds a double first in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and a Master's in International Public Policy from The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. 

Donald stepped down as Director of IEMS in March 2023.

Recent Articles

Hong Kong must rebuild public trust to strengthen its crisis response, as Covid-19 mass-testing debacle shows, SCMP, 30 Mar 2022

Hong Kong’s zero-Covid policy risks becoming a trap if no lessons are learned from this tragedy, SCMP, 15 Mar 2022

The 3 most likely scenarios of how the pandemic in Hong Kong ends, SCMP, 18 Feb 2022

Omicron shows Hong Kong can’t maintain zero-Covid, SCMP, 7 Feb 2022

China will struggle to escape the fallout of zero-Covid, The Diplomat, 31 Jan 2022

Can Hong Kong avoid “dynamic zero-Covid” dystopia and be Beijing’s model for re-engaging with the world?, SCMP, 27 Jan 2022

From tuition ban to Evergrande collapse, is China tripping over its chase for ‘common prosperity’?, SCMP, 16 Jan 2022

Beijing’s insistence on zero-Covid challenges long-held assumptions about China, SCMP, 22 Oct 2021

Hong Kong can break free from its zero-Covid corner. Here’s how, SCMP, 20 Aug 2021

Coronavirus won’t just go away. Here’s how Hong Kong can learn to live with it, SCMP, 1 Aug 2021

Economies chasing zero Covid-19 infections are trapped by their own success, SCMP, 8 May 2021

Hong Kong’s axing from Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom rankings is a gift, with Heiwai Tang, SCMP, 14 Mar 2021

Why the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble is key in adapting to a ‘new normal’, SCMP, 17 Feb 2021

Tackling our labour market woes requires a diverse set of tools, AcademiaSG, 25 Oct 2020

Parti v party: Inequalities and the justice system, AcademiaSG, 12 Sep 2020

The coronavirus crisis is an opportunity to reform the global economic system, IEMS Thought Leadership Brief, Jul 2020 

GE2020: Singapore’s day of decision and the challenge of a generation, with Cherian George, AcademiaSG, 13 Jul 2020

GE2020: Why Singapore may lose, whatever the final score, with Cherian George, AcademiaSG, 7 Jul 2020

Beyond the pandemic: efficiency, resilience, justice, AcademiaSG, 1 May 2020

How Singapore can draw the right lessons from the coronavirus crisis, SCMP, 16 Apr 2020

The coronavirus crisis has shown us the global economic system is no longer fit for purpose, SCMP 3 Apr 2020

Covid-19 and climate change have more in common than you think, with Xun WU, TODAY 12 Mar 2020

Why we might have to accept that this new coronavirus is here to stay, SCMP 11 Feb 2020