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 the financial sustainability of these organizations. Her research has been published in domestic and international leading journals, including National Tax Journal, Public Finance Review, Public Budgeting & Finance, The American Review of Public Administration, Journal of Regional Science, Economic Development Quarterly, Regional Studies, Public Money & Management, Municipal Finance Journal, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs and Public Finance and 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

Andrew Duggan, Douglas Carr and Wenli Yan, “Conditional Impacts of Political and Fiscal Factors on State Environmental Budgets”, Forthcoming at Public Budgeting & Finance

Spencer Brien and Wenli Yan, “Are Overlapping Local Governments Competing With Each Other When Issuing Debt?”, Public Budgeting & Finance, first published: 11 June 2020, https://doi.org/10.1111/pbaf.12264

Wenli Yan and Douglas Carr, “Impacts of Revenue Diversification and Revenue Elasticity on State Fiscal Health.” Public Finance and Management, Vol. 19 No. 2, (2019)

Denison, D., Yan, W., & Butler, J. S. (2019). Managing risk and growth of nonprofit revenue. Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs, 5(1), 56-73. https:// doi.org/10.20899/jpna.5.1.56-73

Meagan M. Jordan, Wenli Yan and Somayeh Hooshmand, “The Role of State Revenue Structure in the Occurrence and Magnitude of Revenue Variance.” The American Review of Public Administration, first published October 5, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1177/0275074015608265

Justin M. Ross, Wenli Yan and Craig Johnson (2015). “The Public Financing of America’s Largest Cities: A Study of City Financial Records in the Wake of the Great Recession.” Journal of Regional Science, 55(1), 113-138. doi: 10.1111/jors.12117.

Wenli Yan and Margaret Sloan, “The Impact of Employee Compensation and Financial Performance on Nonprofit Organization Donations.” The American Review of Public Administration, first published on October 19, 2014, https://doi.org/10.1177/0275074014554000

Wenli Yan (2013), “Using Trend Data to Evaluate the Differential Response of State Borrowing to Revenue Volatility.” Public Budgeting & Finance, 33(2), 75-92.

Wenli Yan and Douglas Carr (2013), “Federal Environmental Regulation Impacts on Local Economic Growth and Stability.” Economic Development Quarterly, 27(3), 179-192. doi: 10.1177/0891242413486187.

Justin M. Ross and Wenli Yan (2013). “Fiscal Illusion from Property Reassessment? An Empirical Test of the Residual View." National Tax Journal, 66(1), 7-32. (Nominated for the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) Distinguished Research and Development Award in 2013).

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.

Douglas Carr and Wenli Yan (2010).“Federal Environmental Policy and Local Industrial Diversification:The Case of the Clean Air Act.” Regional Studies, 46(5), 639-649. doi: 10.1080/00343404.2010.509131.

Wenli Yan, Dwight 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 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.