Research Scientist in Economics

Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Research Scientist

School Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Department/Area Opportunity Insights, Dept of Economics

Position Description

The American Dream – the aspiration that all children should have opportunities to climb the economic ladder – is at risk. In the 1950s, more than 90% of American children grew up to earn more than their parents did. Today, only 50% of children do so.

The mission of Opportunity Insights (OI) is to restore the American dream. We seek to develop scalable policy solutions that will empower families to rise out of poverty and achieve better life outcomes. We do this by harnessing the power of big data through high quality research to learn from areas where the American Dream is still thriving. We study economic mobility through lenses such as education, neighborhood environments, and health to understand the drivers of economic opportunity in the country and give local policy-makers customized data and insights to help them craft effective policy solutions. More recently, we have turned our efforts to tracking in real-time the unequal impact of COVID-19 across the economy.

The project’s work to date has shaped policy discussions at the national and local level, with nearly a dozen of its studies covered on the front pages of major media outlets, such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and cited in congressional testimony and the President’s State of the Union addresses. This work has led to direct impacts on a broad range of decisions by local policy makers, ranging from school districts to housing authorities.

Our team, led by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Nathan Hendren, consists of leaders from academia, policy, and management, supported by a staff who share a passion to revive the American Dream.

We are now seeking a Research Scientist who will work with the senior leadership team of OI and to conduct rigorous, high-quality public policy research on the condition and drivers of economic mobility in the US. As a member of the OI team, the Research Scientist will help us set the standard for high quality empirical analyses using large-administrative data sets to help develop research we hope ultimately improves economic mobility.

• Conducts in-depth high quality research under the direction of Professors Chetty, Friedman, and Hendren, leveraging large-scale administrative datasets.
• Develops research methods to answer academic questions of interest
• Develops paper and slide material for disseminating research results to stakeholders.
• Develops and implements efficient coding and data handling processes
• Meets with and briefs relevant external contacts on research
• Collaborates with OI policy outreach efforts to help develop boutique analyses that are useful to support translation of research into accurate understandings in policy circles.
• Authors or co-authors policy reports, blogs, op-eds, and other commentary

Applicants should send a letter of interest, their CV, and up to three research papers through the Harvard application portal. Up to three recommendation letters should be sent directly by references in the same manner.

Full consideration by December 15, 2020, and applications accepted through March 15, 2021.

Basic Qualifications

• Masters or Ph.D. experience in computer science, economics, or related field with considerable data analysis background.

• Able to lead independent statistical and economic research
• Ability to work collegially with staff at all levels and in all job profiles

Additional Qualifications

• Initiative and enthusiasm
• Strong technical skills in statistics and quantitative methods
• Results oriented
• Personal obligation to uphold organization’s expectations
• Strong sense of purpose in holding difficult conversations
• Personal accountability for consistent application of processes and policies

Contact Information
Nathan Hendren

Contact Email

Equal Opportunity Employer

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions or any other characteristic protected by law.

Maximum Number of References Allowed 3

Supplemental Questions

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Applicant Documents

Required Documents

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Cover Letter
  • Optional Documents
  • Publication
  • Publication 2
  • Publication 3