L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Wenli Yan

Wenli Yan

Associate professor

Scherer Hall, Room 309 Phone: (804) 827-0541 Email: wyan@vcu.edu


  • State and local government finance
  • Public and nonprofit financial management
  • Regional economic development


B.A., Economics, University of International Relations (Beijing, China)
M.P.A., University of Kentucky
Ph.D., Public Administration, University of Kentucky


Public budgeting, finance and accounting, nonprofit financial management

Research interests

Revenue structure and debt financing of state and local government, nonprofit revenue and capital structure and the fiscal impact of federal environmental regulations


Yan’s current research focuses on the impact of revenue structure on revenue volatility of public and nonprofit organizations and also the subsequent impact on financial sustainability of these organizations. Her research has been published in domestic and international leading journals, including Public Budgeting and Finance, Public Finance Review, Regional Studies, Public Money & Management, Municipal Finance Journal and Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management.

Among those publications, her paper published in Public Finance Review titled “Revenue Structure and Nonprofit Borrowing” highlights the importance of revenue diversification and government subsidy in the debt financing decision of nonprofit organizations. This paper was rated as the most frequently read article in Public Finance Review in 2009. In addition, her research has been recognized by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management and the Public Finance and Budgeting Section of the Western Social Science Association. Prior to joining the Wilder School, Yan was an assistant professor at Indiana University.

Selected publications

Justin Ross and Wenli Yan, “Fiscal Illusion from Property Reassessment? An Empirical Test of the Residual View.” National Tax Journal (forthcoming)

Wenli Yan and Douglas Carr, “Federal Environmental Regulation and Its Impact on Local Economic Growth and Stability.” Economic Development Quarterly (forthcoming)

Wenli Yan (2012). “The Impact of Revenue Diversification and Economic Base on State Revenue Stability.” Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, 24(1), 58-81.

Wenli Yan (2011). “The interactive effect of revenue diversification and economic base on US local government revenue stability.” Public Money & Management, 31 (6), 419–426.

Wenli Yan (2011). “Revenue Diversification and State Credit Risk.” Municipal Finance Journal, 31 (4), 41-62.

Carr, Douglas and Yan, Wenli (2010).“Federal Environmental Policy and Local Industrial Diversification:The Case of the Clean Air Act.” Regional Studies, First published on: 09 October 2010 (iFirst).

Wenli Yan, Dwight V. Denison and J.S. Butler (2009). “Revenue Structure and Nonprofit Borrowing.” Public Finance Review, 37(1), 47-67. (Rated as the most frequently read article in Public Finance Review in 2009).

Dwight V. Denison, Wenli Yan and Zhirong (Jerry) Zhao (2007). “Is management performance a factor in municipal bond credit ratings? The case of Texas School Districts.” Public Budgeting and Finance, 27 (4), 86–98.