Andrew Yang is an American businessman, politician, and author. The son of immigrants from Taiwan, Yang was born and raised in New York State. He attended Brown University and Columbia Law School. Originally a lawyer, Yang began working in startups and early stage growth companies as a founder or executive from 2000 to 2009. In 2011, he founded Venture for America (VFA), a nonprofit organization focused on creating jobs in cities struggling to recover from the Great Recession.
On November 6, 2017, Yang filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for President of the United States in the 2020 election. Yang's campaign largely focused on responding to the rapid development of automation. His signature policy was the "Freedom Dividend," a universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 a month to every American adult as a response to job displacement by automation. Yang has been credited with popularizing the idea of universal basic income through his candidacy and activism.
News outlets described Yang as the most surprising candidate of the 2020 election cycle, going from a relative unknown to a major competitor in the race. Yang qualified for and participated in seven of the first eight Democratic debates. His supporters, informally known as the "Yang Gang", included several high-profile celebrities. Yang suspended his campaign on February 11, 2020, shortly after the New Hampshire primary. After his campaign ended, Yang joined CNN as a political commentator, announced the creation of the political nonprofit organization Humanity Forward, and ran for the Democratic nomination in the 2021 New York City mayoral election. Yang placed fourth in first-place vote in the ranked choice election. He conceded the race shortly after.
Early life and education
Yang was born on January 13, 1975, in Schenectady, New York. His parents emigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. in the 1960s and met in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. Yang is of mixed Fujianese and Taiwanese descent. His father graduated with a Ph.D. in physics and worked in the research labs of IBM and General Electric, generating over 50 patents in his career. His mother graduated with a master's degree in statistics before becoming a systems administrator at a university, and later an artist. Yang has an older brother, Lawrence, who is a psychology professor at New York University.
Yang grew up in Somers in Westchester County, New York. He has described being bullied and called racial slurs by classmates while attending public school, in part because he was one of the smaller children in his class after skipping a grade. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire. Yang was part of the 1992 U.S. national debate team, which competed at the world championships in London. After graduating from Exeter in 1992, he enrolled at Brown University, where he majored in economics and political science, graduating in 1996. He then attended Columbia Law School, earning a Juris Doctor in 1999.
Yang has been married to Evelyn Yang (née Lu) since 2011, and they have two sons. He has spoken about his older son Christopher, who is autistic, saying, "I'm very proud of my son and anyone who has someone on the spectrum in their family feels the exact same way."
The Yang family lives in a rental apartment in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, and also owns a home in New Paltz, New York, that they purchased in 2015. This became the family's primary residence during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a focus of controversy during Yang's mayoral campaign. In 2019, Yang reported on his tax return that he rented out this home for 58 days to friends or on Airbnb.
Yang and his family attend the Reformed Church of New Paltz, which is near his home, and has identified Mark E. Mast as their pastor. He considers himself spiritual. Speaking about his faith at an interfaith town hall at Wartburg College, Yang said he "wouldn't be the first to say that own journey is still in progress."
On February 2, 2021, Yang tested positive for COVID-19 and reported having mild symptoms. He fully recovered.
On February 26, 2021, Yang stopped a physical attack on a journalist on the Staten Island Ferry by placing himself between the attacker and the journalist. The attacker recognized Yang and stopped the assault.