Research in Public Economics

Faculty Sponsor(s): 
Cormac O'Dea

Project Description(s):

Professor O’Dea is recruiting one Fellow to work with him and his co-authors on the following projects:

The primary project that the fellow will work on investigates the extent to which couples, in making their financial decisions, choose collectively as a unit or undertake their decisions individually. We are exploiting a new data set which we have constructed by collecting data from thousands of the largest firms in the US. This data covers the incentives offered by employers related to one of the most important financial decisions made by their employees – how much retirement saving to do. By linking this new employer-level data to administrative data on employees, we are able to study the decision-making of millions of US couples.

The questions that we are tackling center on how couples make their decisions. Do they plan jointly, responding to the incentives which would make most sense for the couple as a unit? Or do they seem to plan individually? And if so why? Does divorce risk seem to be relevant? Does gender play a role? Is there evidence of misunderstanding by individuals of (perhaps complex) financial incentives?

The predoctoral fellow will work on helping us to understand the lessons from our new data set, and to help us to use it to inform our research. In addition to the academic outputs arising from this project, the predoctoral fellow will also assist us with some short policy briefs (this work is co-funded by the US Social Security Administration who have an interest in the policy lessons arising from our work).

Other projects the predoctoral fellow will work on include: i) an investigation of the effect of government transfers to the elderly on their labor supply and living standards and ii) a set of projects related to how risks (especially mortality risk) affects household decision-making.

The predoctoral fellow hired on this project will work with faculty at Yale and MIT and economists at the IMF and US Treasury.

Requisite Skills and Qualifications:

Applicants should be completing or have completed a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. A major in economics is not required but an interest in economics as well as coursework in economics and econometrics is. The ideal candidate will have an interest in economics, will be detail-orientated, will enjoy working with data and will be enthusiastic about problem-solving. Prior coding experience in a statistical language (e.g. Stata or R) is essential.

Special Application Instructions:

None.

Sponsor Name: 
O'Dea