Dr. Tony K. Yang holds a PhD in History from the University of California Riverside and is a scholar of United States Economic History. He is Chinese American, Asian American, or Taiwanese American depending on the political situation and hails from the city of Sunnyvale, California. His primary research focuses on the interaction between social economic attitudes, the formation of savings behavior, and cultural and economic preferences in institutional interactions.
Tony’s dissertation is entitled, The Needs of a Lifetime: The Search for Security, 1865-1914 is an analysis of savings patterns and behaviors during the late-nineteenth century United States. Rather than accepting the notion that the United States lacked sufficient political, economic, or social institutions to implement broad based social insurance programs when compared to the European counterparts, Tony points to cultural preferences and institutional innovations as an explanation for the later development of social insurance in the United States.
The cultural preference for interacting with private savings institutions over public forms of social insurance created strong support for private individualized forms of savings rather than a collective form of social insurance. This was not merely an outgrowth of a listless preference for private markets, or solely the machinations of financial companies. Rather preferences for private institutions for savings were borne out of Victorian notions of rugged individualism and morality. This despite the growth of Civil War pensions which were de facto old age pensions. The experience with Civil War pensions, both in its divisiveness, dividing the North and the South, and in handing out money unearned by Americans, made Civil War pensions a lightning rod for political partisanship. But this program, along with financial innovations effectively forestalled the development of state centered social insurance programs by providing institutional alternatives.
Tony has presented several papers, publications, and is currently editing his manuscript of social insurance. Tony’s other fields of interest include: The Economic History of Slavery, 19th Century United States History, History of U.S. Foreign Relations, Modern Latin American (specifically the Caribbean), and of course a variety of sports.