Tobin Center / Economics Pre-Doctoral Fellows Program
Ian Ayres, Deputy Dean and the William K. Townsend Professor at Yale Law School, is seeking a full-time research assistant to work with him and his co-authors on a variety of applied microeconomics projects on behavioral economics, corporate finance, lotteries, gun policy, and discrimination.
Day-to-day work includes brainstorming, conceptualization of suitable empirical methodologies, collecting and structuring datasets, performing econometric analysis in Stata and interpreting results, undertaking literature reviews, and drafting manuscripts. Work also may include implementing field experiments and conducting surveys.
Previous fellows have gone onto attend top law schools, enroll in PhD programs, and win prestigious fellowships.
Professor Ayres’s recent research has included work on innovation policy, behavioral economics, corporate finance and law, civil rights, and contract law. For more information, visit his website, http://www.ianayres.com (http://www.ianayres.com/).
The successful candidate will have strong STATA skills, an understanding of causal inference strategies (DD, IV, RD, RCT), and ability to work independently. Please send an example of your STATA code with your application.
Faculty sponsor(s): Judy Chevalier and Kevin Williams
Professors Chevalier and Williams are recruiting one Fellow to work on the following projects:
The prospective predoctoral fellow will work on projects studying the retail apocalypse, or the recent trend of mass brick-and-mortar retail exits in the United States. The predoctoral fellow will work with unique location data that tracks the establishment choice and duration of shopping spells for millions of individuals in the United States. This is a big data project – the full sample contains hundreds of billions of observations. Sample tasks the candidate will perform are: What is the average distance an individual travels to reach her retail opportunities; How do individuals combine visits to multiple establishments (trip chaining); Do consumers travel farther to access retail opportunities after local stores exit; Are retail deserts growing?
During the one or two-year fellowship, the successful candidate will develop her/his own research agenda under the supervision of Judy Chevalier and Kevin Williams at the Yale School of Management. The predoctoral fellow will join a small group of research assistants dedicated to faculty at the Yale SOM, but the candidate will also have access to and support of all the resources of the Tobin Center.
This position is intended to provide training in the field of economics research to prepare a candidate for doctoral studies in graduate school. This position presents an opportunity for recent graduates to begin training for a career in research and will serve as a stepping stone to doctoral studies.
Professor Cooper is recruiting two or more Fellows to work with him and his co-authors on the following projects:
The Pricing of Prescription Drugs: This project will study trends in prices for pharmaceutical products in the US and analyze the impact of competition on pharmaceutical price growth. The project will focus, in particular, on the pricing of biologic drugs and the impact of new product entry and the entry of biosimilars
Politics, Lobbying, and Health Spending: The health care industry spends more than virtually any other industry on lobbying each year. This project will explore how lobbying impacts health care legislation and health care spending in the US. We will explore how lobbying influences the incentives facing members of Congress and on decisions about whether or not to adopt new technologies.
Technology Adoption in Health Care: This project will explore what firms adopt new health care technologies and seek to understand how ownership structure and market structure influence adoption decisions.
Pre-doctoral fellows will also work on the Health Care Pricing Project, which uses claims data from three of the five largest insurers in the US to examine the variation and growth in private health spending on the privately insured. Research from the team has been cited in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist and presented at the White House, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers from Medicare and Medicaid Services. Our aim is to produce rigorous scholarship that can directly inform public policy.
Candidates should have a long-term interest in pursuing economics-related research. The projects will involve building large datasets, analyzing data, creating presentations, and helping to prepare manuscripts. Previous pre-doctoral fellows have co-authored papers with the research team and regularly interact with faculty inside and outside of Yale. We have an excellent placement record, and previous fellows have gone on to top PhD programs in Economics, Public Policy, and Health Economics.
For more information about Professor Zack Cooper, visit https://zackcooper.com/
To apply, please email Zack Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org) a pdf document titled “lastname_firstname” and containing the following material:
1. A cover letter describing your interest, dates available, your familiarity with programing languages, your prior research experience, and the names, email addresses, and phone numbers for 2-3 references;
2. A Current CV;
3. A transcript;
4. A writing sample;
5. A sample of your coding (preferably Stata).
Professor Soheil Ghili is recruiting one pre-doctoral fellow to work on the following projects:
A portion of these projects will be focused on a research agenda studying different aspects of health insurance market design in the U.S. Methodologically, working on those projects with Soheil Ghili and his co-authors will solidify the fellow’s skills in modeling, computing, and analyzing dynamic equilibria.
A second portion of these projects are related to analyzing demand in online markets, with an emphasis on search frictions, behavioral biases, long-run vs. short-run aspects, or spatial aspects, depending on the project. The fellow will be working with unique datasets from online platforms to help address these questions.
The ideal candidate will have a strong background in programming languages such as R, Matlab, or python. A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in economics, mathematics, statistics, or computer science is preferred. Work experience in economic consulting would be a plus (but not a requirement). Ideally, the candidate is looking to apply (upon the completion of the pre-doc period) to doctoral programs in economics or related fields. The ideal candidate is passionate about analyzing data and implementing models that would help uncover the economic insights hidden in the data.
Faculty sponsor(s): Kenneth Gillingham
Professor Gillingham is recruiting one Fellow to work with him and his co-authors on the following projects:
Automaker Strategic Responses to Environmental Policy: This project examines the effects of recent increases of U.S. fuel economy standards on automaker endogenous attribute choices, research and development expenditures, and patenting. A focus of the work will be on understanding how state and federal policies, along with the existing automaker vehicle portfolios, differential shape the path of technological innovation for different automakers, with some emphasizing plug-in electric vehicles, while others emphasizing improved fuel economy of conventional gasoline vehicles.
Pay-as-you-drive Insurance and Unraveling of Automobile Insurance Markets: This project uses data from a startup that offers per-mile insurance contracts rather than conventional insurance contracts in the United States. The project documents how per-mile insurance can reduce driving, thus lessening environmental, accident, and congestion externalities. It then explores the conditions under which the existence of per-mile insurance contracts can lead to an unraveling of the conventional insurance market.
Other projects are likely to come up as well, including work on solar energy policy. Candidates should have a long-term interest in pursuing economics-related research. The projects will involve building large datasets, analyzing data, creating presentations, and helping to prepare manuscripts.
Applicants should be completing or have completed a Bachelors or Master’s degree. Candidates need not be economics majors, though they should have experience with economics. We will give preference to detail-oriented applicants with previous research and programming experience, especially in general purpose languages like Python and statistical languages like Matlab, R, or Stata. We also strongly encourage individuals with previous experience in economic consulting to apply.
Faculty sponsor(s): Yusuke Narita
Professor Narita is recruiting one Fellow to work with him and his co-authors on the following projects:
Today’s society increasingly resorts to data and algorithms for decision-making and resource allocation. For example, judges and police officers make legal judgments using predictions from past data and machine learning algorithms. Similar algorithms are also used by financial institutions (such as banks and insurance companies), retailers, tech companies, and governments. School districts, college admissions systems, and labor markets use computational algorithms for position allocations, producing useful data. Data-driven, algorithmic decision-making thus impacts the lives of numerous people.
This observation motivates me to work on “data mechanism design,” with applications to public policy and business. By “data mechanisms,” I mean data-generating decision/allocation systems that impact individuals’ welfare and incentives.
I am seeking a full-time research assistant to help in related on-going projects. Below are a few examples:
Project 1: Algorithm is Experiment: Machine Learning, Market Design, and Policy Eligibility Rules
Machine learning, market design, and other algorithms produce a growing portion of decisions and recommendations. Such algorithmic decisions are natural experiments (conditionally quasi-randomly assigned instruments) since the algorithms make decisions based only on observable input variables. We use this observation to characterize the sources of causal-effect identification for a class of stochastic and deterministic algorithms. Data from almost every algorithm is shown to identify some causal effect. This identification result translates into a treatment-effect estimator. We prove that our estimator is consistent and asymptotically normal for well-defined causal effects. The estimator is easily implemented even with high-dimensional data and complex algorithms. Our estimator induces a high-dimensional regression discontinuity design as a key special case. We are applying this method to a variety of policy and business problems.
Project 2: Hearing the Voice of the Future: US Presidential Elections
Many countries face growing concerns that population aging may make voting and policy-making myopic. This concern begs for electoral reform to better reflect voices of the youth, such as weighting votes by voters’ life expectancy. This paper predicts the effect of the counterfactual electoral reform on the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Using the American National Election Studies (ANES) data, I find that Hillary Clinton would have won the election if votes were weighted by life expectancy. I plan to extend this analysis to use better data and measure the effects on the welfare of different generations
This project involves econometric/statistical and empirical aspects. An ideal candidate is someone who has done coursework in econometrics, statistics, machine learning, and empirical microeconomics.
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.
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.
Professor Pande is recruiting multiple Fellows to work as part of her research team.
The position will involve assistance with all stages of empirical research in international development. The studies typically explore evidence-driven, policy-relevant research questions related to inclusion in India and Nepal. Studies are varied in both question and method, with current work including research exploring how communicating flood warnings to specific gatekeepers in vulnerable communities can improve mitigation measures; how closing information asymmetries among bureaucrats and politicians affects service delivery; informing Nepal’s political transition to federalism; and exploring and reducing the gender gap in access to mobile technology, financial services, and economic opportunities.
Fellows are exposed to cutting-edge topics and research methods in this area. This position is data heavy, and the selected candidate will be expected to analyze survey data, administrative data, and intervention monitoring data. Fellows join in weekly lab meetings and benefit from opportunities to work with Professor Pande and academic economists at Yale and other universities. The position is offered for one year (hiring on a rolling basis for a start date between January and summer 2021, depending on applicant availability), with a strong preference for a second year renewal. We encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds, particularly women, people of color and other marginalized communities which have historically been underrepresented in the field of economics.
Responsibilities for this position include:
• Cleaning and managing large datasets;
• Conducting statistical analyses of data using Stata;
• Preparing literature reviews, background research, and other draft content for grant proposals and academic papers;
• Drafting project reports, research protocols, and other project documents;
• Working with field research teams, including travel to study sites (South Asia, multiple sites) if and when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
• Strong quantitative background: This could include Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Economics, Data Science, International Development, or other degrees with substantial quantitative coursework
• Strong computer skills including programming in Stata and/or R
• Strong academic record and interest in pursuing a PhD in economics
• Strong interest in public policy and economic development research, with a focus on India
• Excellent communication skills, both oral and written
• Ability to work independently
• Willingness to travel to South Asia, including rural areas
Prior experience as a research assistant in Economics or a related field is preferred.
Professor Ryan is recruiting one Fellow to work with him and his co-authors on the following projects:
The clean energy transition—the move from fossil-fuel based energy production to renewable energy production—is well underway, but is going faster in developed countries than in developing ones. The pre-doctoral fellow will work on several projects to understand the design and efficiency of energy and environmental markets in developing countries. These projects sit at the intersection of several field of economics, namely energy economics, industrial organization and economic development.
The primary project will be on the role of counterparty payment risk in bidding for solar power projects in India. The goal of this project is to see how the risk of non-payment from energy buyers may raise the price of green energy in developing countries, thus slowing down the clean energy transition. A second project studies the efficiency of reforming electricity subsidies for Indian farmers, using data from a large, ongoing field experiment. The fellow may also work on additional projects on energy and environmental markets, as time allows.
The fellow will be involved in all parts of the research process from data cleaning and analysis to the presentation of results. The pre-doctoral fellow will be expected to:
• Acquire skills related to both structural econometric methods, such as the analysis of auctions, and the analysis of data from large-scale randomized experiments.
• Clean, manage and update large datasets from both primary (household survey) and secondary (administrative market transactions) sources
• Analyze data in R, Stata and Matlab. Write and maintain fast, beautiful and reproducible code.
• Coordinate with field research activities and data collection to understand the data and possibly contribute to ongoing experiments.
The position would be for one year with the possibility of extending it for a second year. Intended start date is between June 1 and July 1, 2021.
This position will provide training in economics research to help prepare a candidate for doctoral studies in graduate school. A love of working with data is essential. Fluency in R and/or STATA is required. Additional statistical (Matlab) and general-purpose programing skills (Python) and working knowledge of Latex are preferred. Candidates need not be economics majors, but should have some experience with economics. We welcome applicants from other fields such as, but not limited to, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, political science, and statistics.
Professor Washington is recruiting one Fellow to work with her and her co-authors on the following projects:
Although many factors contribute to racial health disparities in the US, the role of the medical institution itself has not been rigorously identified. Marcella Alsan, MD, MPH, PhD and I aim to identify the role of provider/patient racial concordance on health by leveraging a setting where patients are randomly assigned to doctors, the emergency departments (ED) of a large hospital network. The RA will assist us in cleaning data, running analyses, preparing presentations, writing literature reviews and other tasks.
While my plan is for the RA to work primarily on the health disparities project, the RA will need to be flexible. Regardless of work on health disparities, the RA will have the opportunity to support other projects in my research agenda on race and political economy and to support research on minority career trajectories for my work as co-chair of the Committee of the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession.
The successful candidate will have strong STATA skills, be a creative problem solver, be extremely careful and have an ability to work independently. Please send an example of your STATA code with your application. Please include in your cover letter a discussion of a job in which you had to be particularly detail oriented.
Professor Zilibotti is recruiting one Fellow to work on the following projects:
Professor Fabrizio Zilibotti in Economics Department at Yale University is seeking a FULL-TIME research assistant for one year, beginning July 2021 (start date and duration of work periods are both negotiable).
The influences of parents and peers are key factors in children’s development that shape the future of the American society. In the recent book “Love. Money and Parenting: How Economics Explains the Way We Raise Our Kids,” published by Princeton University Press in February 2019 (paperback edition 2020) and translated in several languages. The book discusses how the trend of growing inequality has changed the way parents interact with their children in the United States and around the world as well as the consequences on the future society. See
The objective of the research is to examine the connections between parenting on the one hand and neighborhoods and peers on the other hand, using data and economic models of parenting decisions. We use data from the Add Health, PSID-CDS, and ACS data sets to empirically test the theoretical predictions and to estimate structural models that can be used for policy analysis. Over a longer time horizon, we also plan to collect new data and run surveys focusing on the effect of social media. Model simulations will also be used to assess the implications of alternative policy scenarios for the long-run evolution of economic inequality, social mobility, and residential segregation.
The project comprises two subprojects on these issues, one focusing on the role of peers, and the other and on the role of neighborhoods.
The first subproject focuses on peer selection among adolescents. Once children pass into adolescence, the direct influence of parents on their children tends to wane, whereas influences from peers become more important. However, parents can still influence their children at this stage runs through their impact on the peer selection of their children. In principle, this influence may take many forms, from choosing neighborhoods and schools to encouraging children at an earlier stage to adopt activities and hobbies that later on, in the parents’ mind, are associated with a favorable peer group.
We first collect evidence on how parents’ incentive to intervene in children’s peer selection hinges on the quality of the pool from which children choose friends. The next stage will be the estimation of a structural model. We will then to run counterfactual simulations about policy intervention such as desegregation busing that move children from schools in poorer and more problematic neighborhood to schools in wealthier neighborhood. Our approach allows us to evaluate the response of families to such interventions taking general equilibrium effects into consideration.
In the second subproject, we study the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in the light of the results in the first study. COVID-19 has a number of implications. First, school closure reduces the learning potential. Second, parents must step-in as instructors in support of children during the time in which schools are partially or totally closed. The ability for parents to do so hinges on their ability of working from home. This varies across occupation and income levels, increasing the disadvantage of less wealthy families. Finally, schools operate as an equalizing factor by allowing mixing of children from different socio-economic background. We conjecture that COVID will induce more socio-economic segregation coming through peer effects. This will also have effects on parenting. Moreover, these effects may persist after school activity is resumed, especially, if poor children suffer more severe consequences in both cognitive learning and behavior.
Applications are invited from students with a strong background in economics and statistics. Skills and interest in data collection and econometric analysis are important. Knowledge of Stata and the ability to merge datasets are essential skills (please dwell on this in the application). Other quantitative skills (e.g., programming skills) are appreciated but are not essential. We expect the RA to work in a team with younger students and to help coordinate their work.
Faculty sponsor(s): Seth Zimmerman
Professor Zimmerman is recruiting one Fellow to work with him and his co-authors on the following projects:
The research assistant will work with Professor Zimmerman on new and ongoing projects in applied microeconomics, primarily related to labor economics and the economics of education. They will be engaged in all stages of the research process, including conceptual development, data collection, data analysis, and writing. Research collaboration with faculty, graduate students, and research professionals at Yale and other institutions will be an important component of the job.
For more information on Professor Zimmerman’s research, please visit his website: https://sites.google.com/site/sethdavidzimmerman/
Requisite Skills and Qualifications:
The ideal candidate will have a strong quantitative background, programming skills, the ability to work independently and solve problems, and a long-term interest in pursuing research in economics or an adjacent field. Candidates should also have strong communication skills and the ability to write clearly.
Background in economics is a plus but not required; candidates with strong technical skills who are interested in learning more about economics are encouraged to apply. Successful applicants typically have Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees with substantial coursework in economics, math, and/or computer science.
• A cover letter describing your interest, dates available, your familiarity with programing languages, your prior research experience, and the names, email addresses, and phone numbers for 2-3 references;
• A current CV (optional: include a link to a code repository);
• A transcript;
• A writing sample;
• A code sample (preferably Stata, R, or Python)
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes; we sponsor J-1 and TN visas. If applicable, candidates eligible for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) are encouraged to use this visa if granted a fellowship.
We encourage our Fellows to either audit or take for credit one course per semester. You may audit any course at Yale for free, with permission of the instructor. Courses taken for credit cost approximately $2,700 each, and this potential expense is accounted for in setting salary for our Fellows.
2019-20 was the inaugural year of the program, and Fellows who applied to Ph.D. programs matriculated to top economics and business school programs at the London School of Economics, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto, University of Wisconsin, and Yale.
We are biased, but we think New Haven is awesome. Yale is located in the geographic center of New Haven, and contributes much to the city’s character and culture. Beyond Yale, there are many places to eat, drink, shop, and experience arts and culture. Should you want more, it is also very easy to get to nearby cities such as New York (2 hours) or Boston (3 hours) by car or train. The cost of living is affordable, and the city is generally safe (violent crime rates, for example, are currently lower than the national average).
A set of R, Stata, or Python code you have written for an empirical project or a class. You may submit more than one if applying to multiple positions with different language preferences.
A paper that displays your writing and analytic skills and capacity to execute independent research. A senior thesis, Master’s thesis, or a term paper are all fine choices. Any length is acceptable.
Describe your interest in the program and specific faculty projects; the date you are available to start work; whether you prefer to work for one or two years; your familiarity with programing languages (Stata, R, Python, Matlab, etc); your prior experience as a research assistant and with independent research (e.g., a senior thesis); the names, email addresses, and phone numbers for 2-3 references; any other relevant information.
Provide a short statement (up to 250 words) describing how your personal background and prior academic, professional, or research experience could contribute to diversity and inclusion in our program and to the field of economics.