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Having lived in India and Singapore as a child, Western Economics professor Terry Sicular was always fascinated by Asia. Five decades later, that passion prevails.

Sicular’s current study, The Middle Class and China's Economic Development, was one of two Canadian projects to receive funding from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (New York) and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (Waterloo).  Aiming at finding solutions for the world’s most pressing economic problems, the organizations jointly awarded $2.1 million in research grants to 23 different projects.

“Every day you read the paper, there seems to be a story about the middle class,” Sicular said. “There’s...

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