Tobin Research Assistantships

The Tobin RAs are named after James Tobin, a prominent member of the Department of Economics at Yale from 1950 to 2002 and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1981. He was an avid supporter of involving undergraduates in research in economics and was the leader of “Tobin’s ‘army’ — generations of undergraduates [who] became part of an intellectual adventure … and were instilled with the desire to devote knowledge and reason to the betterment of society” (quoted in “Remembering James Tobin: Stories Mostly from His Students,” by Robert Goldfarb, Eastern Economic Journal, 2003).

The purpose of the Tobin Research Assistantships (Tobin RAs) is to give undergraduates in economics at Yale an opportunity to learn about conducting research in economics by working as a research assistant for a professor. Tobin RAs typically begin in the fall of each academic year 

and are renewable, upon mutual agreement of the professor and the research assistant, for up to one additional term. In each term, each Tobin RA requires approximately 10 hours of work per week for 12 weeks and pays $12.50/hour.

To apply for a project, students should submit an application form along with an uploaded curriculum vita (or resume). The relevant professor will receive an email of your application and curriculum vita, as will Qazi Azam (Undergraduate Registrar in the Department of Economics). Students may apply to at most three projects; students who have participated in the Tobin RAs in the past are no longer eligible to participate. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until Wednesday, September 6, 2017.


Tobin Research Projects

  1. Playing Checkers in Chinatown

    Prof. José Antonio Espín Sánchez (jose-antonio.espin-sanchez@yale.edu)

    In the 1974 motion picture Chinatown the private investigator J. J. “Jake” Gites (Jack Nicholson) is involved in a conspiracy that involved corruption, deceit and “family secrets.” The goal of the conspirators was to buy the lands of unsuspected farmers in the Owens Valley (some 400 miles north of Los Angeles) and then build an aqueduct to bring the water to the city, where it would be worth a fortune. Although, this description is fictional and far from reality, there is much controversy about the way the city of L.A. purchased the water and land rights in the Owens Valley.

    The goal of the project is to gather individual unpublished detailed data of all the purchases of land and water rights (1905-1934). With the individual data we will be able to assess whether the prices paid were “fair.” We will also assess why some farmers and not others were able to organize in sellers’ pools. Finally we will test whether the city of L.A. established a purchasing pattern of “checkers,” thereby isolating farmers’ properties in order to buy them later at a lower price.

    The goal for the RA will be to help processing the data from the farmer’s plots. She will use GIS software to create maps of the plots and to transform that information into econometric analysis. Knowledge of GIS is helpful, but it is not a requirement. The RA will then help process the data and program the estimators for the econometric analysis. Knowledge of R is recommended.

  2. How have National and Multinational Bodies Responded to Financial Crises?

    Prof. Andrew Metrick, Michael H. Jordan Professor of Finance and Management, Yale School of Management and Program Director, Yale Program on Financial Stability (andrew.metrick@yale.edu)

    The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009 was the source of hundreds of interventions by national and multinational bodies working to manage and resolve the crisis, yet these interventions have not been catalogued or codified in any comprehensive way.  A similar lack of comprehensive cataloguing and codification is true of other financial crises throughout history.  As part of its mission to further the understanding of the management of systemic risk in financial markets among a community of financial regulators and scholars, the Yale Program on Financial Stability is embarking on a multi-year project to develop case studies for each of the interventions attempted by select national and multinational bodies in response to select financial crises.  The cases will ultimately form the core of a database to be used by practitioners in the event of future financial crises.  We will use a standardized style for the cases, intended to be useful even in an emergency, so that (if necessary), decision makers could search through many cases, find interventions relevant for their current problem, and quickly review the justification for specific design decisions.  An example of one of these cases can be found at the link below.

    http://som.yale.edu/download-ypfs/Temporary-Guarantee-Program-for-Money-Market-Funds-13Jan16%20v1.pdf

    Our undergraduate research assistants would assist full-time YPFS staff in the development of the cases by gathering and reviewing documents and information associated with specified interventions (program term sheets, government reports, academics papers, etc.) and, in some instances, drafting the cases themselves.  Successful applicants will have strong research and writing skills, familiarity with financial markets and an interest in learning more about financial crises.  

  3. Undergraduate Women in Economics at Yale

    James Thomas (james.r.thomas@yale.edu)

    Only 34% of recent Yale graduates with a major in Economics are women.  This is higher than the national average—30.9% in 2014—but still unfortunately low.  As part of the multi-school Undergraduate Women in Economics Challenge (http://scholar.harvard.edu/goldin/UWE), the Economics Diversity Committee at Yale is working to design, implement, and evaluate policies for increasing female participation in Economics.  We are currently at the design stage and would like to hire Tobin RA’s to assist with data analysis.  Specifically, the RA would use econometric models to understand what factors lead Yale students to have initial interest in Economics and how experiences at Yale influence whether those with initial interest go on to complete a major in Economics.  Experience with econometrics and Stata is required.

  4. Working under Search and Information Frictions: Evidence from an Online Labor Market Experiment

    Prof. Yusuki Narita (yusuke.narita@yale.edu) and Prof. Kosuke Uetake (kosuke.uetake@yale.edu)

    This project empirically studies i) how employers respond to wage and tax/fee changes, ii) how their responses are damped by various frictions in both the demand and supply sides of the labor market such as information and search frictions, and employer-side capacity constraints, and iii) what income tax/fee systems we should design under such frictions.

    To do so, we first conduct a randomized experiment at an online crowdsourcing platform to identify how worker behavior changes in response to changes in the income/fee rate that workers need to pay for the platform. Our preliminary results suggest that the observed labor-supply elasticity is diluted by the frictions. We then construct a structural model of labor demand and supply in order to decompose the observed labor-supply elasticity into search friction, information friction, and the underlying structural elasticity.

    Finally, using the estimates from the structural model and the behavioral optimal taxation theory, we quantify the welfare and market design implications of the frictions.

    Required skills:We are looking for an RA to help the empirical side of this project. An ideal candidate is somebody who (1) has done coursework in empirical/applied microeconomics (especially some of industrial organization, labor, public finance, and quantitative marketing) and (2) has done coursework in or at the very least has a strong interest in data work with a programming language such as Matlab, Python, R, or Stata.

  5. Match or Mismatch: Learning and Inertia in School Choice

    Prof. Yusuki Narita (yusuke.narita@yale.edu)

    Centralized matching markets are designed assuming that participants make well- informed choices upfront. However, this project uses data from NYC’s school choice system to show that families’ choices change after the initial match as they learn about schools. I develop an empirical model of evolving demand for schools under learning, endowment effects in response to prior assignments, and switching costs. The estimates suggest that there are even more changes in underlying demand than in observed choices, undermining the welfare performance of the initial match. To alleviate the welfare cost of demand changes, I theoretically and empirically investigate dynamic mechanisms that best accommodate choice changes. These mechanisms improve on the existing discretionary reapplication process. In addition, the gains from the mechanisms drastically change depending on the extent of demand-side inertia caused by switching costs. Thus, the gains from a centralized market depend not only on its design but also on demand-side frictions (such as demand changes and inertia).

    See https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3337473/mismatch.pdf for the latest draft.

    Required skills: I am looking for an RA to help with either the theory or empirical side of this project. An ideal theory candidate is somebody who has done coursework in theoretical microeconomics (especially market design). An ideal empirical candidate is somebody who (1) has done coursework in empirical/applied microeconomics (especially some of education, industrial organization, and labor) and (2) has done coursework in or at the very least has a strong interest in data and visualization work with a programming language such as Matlab, Python, R, or Stata.

  6. (Non)Randomization: A Theory of Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of School Quality

    Prof. Yusuki Narita (yusuke.narita@yale.edu)

    In centralized school admissions systems, rationing at oversubscribed schools often uses lotteries in addition to preferences. This partly random assignment is used by empirical researchers to identify the effect of entering a school on outcomes like test scores. This project formally studies if the two most popular empirical research designs successfully extract a random assignment. For a class of data-generating mechanisms containing those used in practice, I show: One research design extracts a random assignment under a mechanism if and almost only if the mechanism is strategy-proof for schools. In contrast, the other research design does not necessarily extract a random assignment under any mechanism.

    See http://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d20/d2056.pdf for the latest draft.

    Required skills: I am looking for an RA to help with either the theory or simulation side of the above project. An ideal candidate is somebody who has done coursework in econometrics (especially causal inference and program evaluation) and theoretical microeconomics (especially market design).

  7. Experimental Design as Market Design

    Prof. Yusuki Narita (yusuke.narita@yale.edu)

    This project investigates the design of randomized experiments with high-stakes treatments such as cancer treatment or basic income. Unlike standard designs, my approach not only randomly assigns treatment, but also caters to subjects’ welfare; as much as possible, the proposed design assigns a treatment to subjects with better predicted treatment effects or stronger preferences for the treatment, where predicted effects and preferences are freely correlated. I am applying the above theoretical idea to real data in a development/health context.

    Required skills: I am looking for an RA to help with the theory side of this project. An ideal candidate is somebody who has done coursework in econometrics (especially causal inference and program evaluation) and theoretical microeconomics (especially market design).

  8. Risk Technology, and Agriculture in West Africa

    Christopher Udry, Henry J. Heinz ll Professor Economics, Department of Economics (christopher.udry@yale.edu)

    This project investigates the roles of risk and information about technologies to examine agricultural innovation in northern Ghana. The RA will use data from a sequence of surveys detailing changes in farmer knowledge, social networks, and farming activities to evaluate the impact of a randomized experiment involving a new form of microinsurance, and new agricultural extension methods. The RAs will make use of raw survey data to construct useful summary measures of, e.g. knowledge and use of new techniques, communication paths between community members, and measures of yields and profits. The central goal of the project will be to examine program impact on these outcomes by creating summaries of these data by treatment status.

    The work will require the RA to do extensive (well-documented, careful) Stata programming to organize the data, analyze the results, and help prepare tables and graphs for papers and presentations.

  9. Efficient Regulation of Pollution from Passenger Vehicles

    Joseph Shapiro (joseph.shapiro@yale.edu)

    This project builds methods to design optimal policy for regulating pollution emissions from passenger vehicles. It applies the methods to study the regulation of U.S. passenger vehicles over the last 40 years. Help is needed documenting precise details of current and past U.S. policies; undertaking similar tasks for other countries; and possibly obtaining and cleaning microdata on specific policies from other countries. These tasks will primarily require internet research, library research, and phone interviews with regulators.

    Required skills: outstanding writing skills, interest in learning and distilling the details of regulatory design, core economics courses (intermediate micro and intro econometrics), ability and motivation to work independently. Please include a transcript (unofficial is fine) with your application; including a writing sample would be useful though not required.

  10. Taxes and Multinational Entry

    Costas Arkolakis (costas.arkolakis@yale.edu)

    This projects aims to apply new mathematical techniques to the study of multinational firms’ location choices around the world. In particular, we are interested in understanding how spatial differences in corporate taxation rates, both across regions within countries and across country borders, affect multinational firm location choices. We aim to combine the firm level data on corporate tax schedules around the world, new mathematical tools on computational discrete choice and frontier economic modeling techniques to produce a quantitative study to contribute and inform this debate. We also plan to combine these techniques with modern econometric estimation techniques on moment inequalities.

    Required skills: The RA is required to have good knowledge of MATLAB and STATA. Good understanding of econometrics is valuable but not necessary.

  11. Working Without Respect: Working Class Aspirations in a Postindustrial Economy

    Gerald Jaynes (gerald.jaynes@yale.edu)

    This book project uses a behavioral economic framework to explain the transformations in Labor force participation, marriage, and living arrangements of children primarily among white working class men and women since 1970. Behavioral economics as applied here conjoins a theoretical construct of social psychology, self-verification, with methods of economic analysis to explain economic behaviors. Self-verification refers to a basic human need to receive social affirmation that one’s beliefs about one’s self (our identity) are true. Thesis: Postindustrial inequality’s systemic deterioration in working class men’s wages below a “living wage,” estranges segments of the white working class outside the nation’s “middle class” identity, an estrangement historically reserved for minorities of color; working class white men and women respond to cultural estrangement similar to minorities effecting a restructuring of cultural institutions. Similar working class responses to similar macrosocial conditions, imply objective markers of class position primarily determine life chances; race/ethnicity assumes a codependent causal role in the emergence of within class differences. Within class behavioral similarities strongly challenge culture of poverty claims.

    Required skills: An important part of the project requires locating original data for a variety of national surveys since 1950 (Roper, Gallup, General Social Survey) and setting up data base in order to pursue econometric analysis concerning “working class” beliefs and attitudes on certain issues. RA should have had an introduction to statistics and/or econometrics. I will teach everything else needed.


Application Form

  1. Taxation and Multinational Activity

    Prof. Costas Arkolakis (costas.arkolakis@yale.edu)

    This projects aims to apply new mathematical techniques to the study of multinational firms’ location choices around the world. In particular, we are interested in understanding how spatial differences in corporate taxation rates, both across regions within countries and across country boarders, affect multinational firm location choices. We aim to combine the firm level data on corporate tax schedules around the world, new mathematical tools and frontier economic modeling techniques to produce a quantitative study to contribute and inform this debate. The RA is required to have good knowledge of matlab and stata.
     

  2. Gender Networks and Labor Market Outcomes
    Ilse Lindenlaub (ilse.lindenlaub@yale.edu)

    This project investigates the link between differences in men’s and women’s social networks and differences in their labor market outcomes. In many settings it has been documented that male and female informal networks differ. At the same time, differences in labor market outcomes remain striking. We have developed a theory that provides a connection between the two and now want to test this theory in the data. 

    I am looking for an RA with a strong background in network analysis. The RA-task would involve working with networks data and assessing the characteristics of informal networks of a private firm’s employees, using network analysis. The main objective would be to work out how informal networks at the work place differ across gender.


     
  3. Note: All positions have been filled for this project - no longer accepting applications
    The Long Waves of Economic Growth

    Michael Peters (m.peters@yale.edu) and Aleh Tsyvinski (a.tsyvinski@yale.edu)

    Understanding the nature of economic fluctuations is a central topic of macroeconomics. According to the current textbook model, the macroeconomy is characterized by two distinct processes: a long-run growth trend and a short-run cycle. In this project we want to revisit an influential debate from the first half of the 20th century, which challenges this perspective. Scholars like Kondratiev or Schumpeter argued that the behavior of economy is characterized by both short-run and long-run waves of economic expansions and downturns, which determine both business-cycles and long-run growth simultaneously. We want to use a host of newly available time-series data and recent techniques in time-series econometrics to quantify the importance of such waves for the macroeconomy. We are particularly interested to study whether this can add to our understanding of whether US growth is indeed coming to an end as recently argued by Robert Gordon.

    While we will be using theory, this project is mainly empirically oriented. In particular, we will construct a novel database of historical statistics both for the US and other countries in the world. Experience with empirical research would therefore be a plus.  


     
  4. How Have National and Multinational Bodies Responded to Financial Crises?
    Andrew Metrick (andrew.metrick@yale.edu)

    The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009 was the source of hundreds of interventions by national and multinational bodies working to manage and resolve the crisis, yet these interventions have not been catalogued or codified in any comprehensive way.  A similar lack of comprehensive cataloguing and codification is true of other financial crises throughout history.  As part of its mission to further the understanding of the management of systemic risk in financial markets among a community of financial regulators and scholars, the Yale Program on Financial Stability is embarking on a multi-year project to develop case studies for each of the interventions attempted by select national and multinational bodies in response to select financial crises.  The cases will ultimately form the core of a database to be used by practitioners in the event of future financial crises.  We will use a standardized style for the cases, intended to be useful even in an emergency, so that (if necessary), decision makers could search through many cases, find interventions relevant for their current problem, and quickly review the justification for specific design decisions.  An example of one of these cases can be found at the link below.

    http://som.yale.edu/download-ypfs/Temporary-Guarantee-Program-for-Money-Market-Funds-13Jan16%20v1.pdf

    Our undergraduate research assistants would assist full-time YPFS staff in the development of the cases by gathering and reviewing documents and information associated with specified interventions (program term sheets, government reports, academics papers, etc.) and, in some instances, drafting the cases themselves.  Successful applicants will have strong research and writing skills, familiarity with financial markets and an interest in learning more about financial crises.   


     
  5. Quantitative Trade and Migration Analysis
    Lorenzo Caliendo (lorenzo.caliendo@yale.edu)

    The research project explores the use of quantitative economics model, and mathematical tools, to advance knowledge in macroeconomics and international trade. In particular, during the process of the research the student will learn several economics models and help develop new models for quantitative analysis. Moreover, the project will required the analysis and use of new data to evaluate the welfare impact of trade policy. This is an ideal project for someone looking to get exposure to high level research in quantitative trade.


     
  6. Note: All positions have been filled for this project - no longer accepting applications
    Misallocation in the Global Economy

    Aleh Tsyvinski (a.tsyvinski@yale.edu)

    A highly motivated student that is proficient at Matlab and Stata and wants to learn how to work with large datasets. The project will require the student to gather data, codeing, and then performing numerical simulations with data. The end result of this project is expected to deliver a study that would aim to understand which are the most important countries and sectors for the world economy. The student would benefit from interacting with Yale Economics and SOM professors and would acquire very useful skills for any Economic career he would like to pursue in the future.


     
  7. Proposal Title TBA
    Martin Shubik (martin.shubik@yale.edu)

    The project involves experimentation with several 2 X 2 matrix games concentrating on the prisoner’s dilemma. the stag hunt and battle of the sexes. And  one other I call  ”The best of all possible worlds ‘The experiments involve a live player playing against a set of automata. There are only a few automata that can be associate with the game played once.  The first experiment would be with a play of the one shot games followed by play of many stage games with the same automata.


     
  8. Note: All positions have been filled for this project - no longer accepting applications
    Growth and Structural Change: Lessons From the Micro Data 
    Michael Peters (m.peters@yale.edu

    Economic growth is a relatively new phenomenon – it is only since the mid 19th century that some countries like the US, Britain and other European economies started to systematically “outgrow” the rest of the world. This process of growth has been accompanied by sweeping changes in how we produce and – more generally – how we live. At the sectoral level, all successful economies experience declines in agricultural employment and increases in the importance of manufacturing and service jobs. At the regional level, we see an increasing concentration of economic activity across space, which is usually referred to as urbanization. And at the individual level we see drastic increases in the acquisition of human capital. In this project, which is joint work with Fabian Eckert, who is a Phd Student at the Economics Department, we want to use micro-data on millions of individuals across the world to study the empirical regularities of these processes of structural change. This will not only be informative to understand the historical correlates of growth but also important to predict future economic development in both frontier economies like the US and developing countries. 

    Applicants should ideally have some experience in empirical work using STATA and be willing to learn more. We will also use new theoretical tools, which will require us to solve economic models using MATLAB. Hence, knowledge of (or willingness to learn) MATLAB would be a big plus. Ideally we would have a team of 2 or 3 students working on the project, who could also benefit from interacting with each other. 


     
  9. Using Observational Data to Aid in the External Validity of Randomized Controlled Trials
    Ed Vytlacil (edward.vytlacil@yale.edu)

    Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) represent the gold standard for evaluating the effect of treatments within both medicine and the social sciences.  However, if the effect of the treatment varies across subjects, and enrollment into the RCT is related to individual-level treatment effect heterogeneity, then the estimated effect of the treatment from the RCT may not be indicative of the effect of the treatment in the population of interest.  This project will develop the econometric methodology for combining data from an RCT with nonexperimental data to adjust for nonrandom selection of participants into the RCT with the goal of providing results with greater external validity than would be possible from the RCT alone.  The RA should have a strong interest in working with data and some experience with statistical software packages such as STATA.
     

  10. Note: All positions have been filled for this project - no longer accepting applications
    Revisiting Chinatown

    José Antonio Espín Sánchez (jose-antonio.espin-sanchez@yale.edu)

    In the 1974 motion picture Chinatown the private investigator J. J. “Jake” Gites (Jack Nicholson) is involved in a conspiracy that involved corruption, deceit and “family secrets.” The goal of the conspirators consisted of buying the lands of unsuspected farmers in the Owens Valley (some 400 miles north of Los Angeles) and then building an aqueduct to bring the water to the city, where it would be worth a fortune. Although, this description is fictional and far from reality, there is much controversy on the way the city of L.A. purchase the water and land rights in the Owens Valley.

    The goal of the project is to gather individual unpublished detailed data of all the purchases of land and water rights (1905-1934). With the individual data we will be able to assess whether the prices paid were “fair.” We will also assess why some farmers and not others were able to organize in sellers’ pools. Finally we will test whether the city of L.A. established a purchasing patter of “checkers,” thereby isolating farmers’ properties in order to buy them later at a lower price.

    The goal for the RA will be to help processing the data from the farmer’s plots. She will use GIS software to create maps of the plots and to transform that information into econometric analysis. Knowledge of GIS is advisable, but it is not a prerequisite. The RA will then help process the data and program the estimators for the econometric analysis. Knowledge of R is recommended.
     

  11. Note: All positions have been filled for this project - no longer accepting applications
    Inequality and Vertical Mobility over the very long run

    José Antonio Espín Sánchez (jose-antonio.espin-sanchez@yale.edu)

    The recent increase in inequality in the U.S. and other developed countries has stimulated the debate among economists. This debate is best exemplified by Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the twenty-first century and his critics. Taking aside the predictions for the future and the role that capital gains play in this debate, a deeper question is: what is a “normal” level of inequality in historical terms? In other words, if we take the estimates at face value, and inequality today is similar to that of the 19th century and higher than most of the middle of the 20th century, which one is the historical anomaly? Is it normal to have high levels of inequality, and the 20th century was an exception, or is it normal to have low levels of inequality and the 19th century was an exception? Without information on inequality before the 19th century, it is hard to answer the above questions.

    A second question, which might be even more important than the first one, is the role of vertical mobility, especially over the very long run. Recent work by Gregory Clark (The Son Also Rises) advanced the idea that there is a magic rule/number in all societies and at all times. This rule implies a vertical mobility that is neither specially slow nor high, and is universal to the human race. This work and the notion of universality of this force are receiving fierce criticism. The main criticism is the source of the data and its inherent bias. Although the data in the book and related works comes from different sources, they share important shortcomings. 

    The data from the Cambridge Group (for the history of Population and Social Structure) relies has a survivor bias, that is, they look at (male) individuals alive today, and reconstruct their family tree backward. They do not have data on individuals without descendants, or whether any of their individuals have siblings without descendant. Data from censuses typically have information about the occupation, but not about income. Assigning average occupation-income to each individual in one category means that the changes are measuring at the extensive but not intensive margin, creating important biases. Finally, there is severe criticism for the use of “names” as a proxy for income or status.

    I propose a project to reconstruct an individual level full population database from a region in southern Spain. The first part of the project is to collect and clean the demographic data from online sources (baptisms, marriage and death). The second part consists of collecting first proxies for income (wealth at death) and then actual income from personal tithe records.

    The RA will help create the demographic dataset. The RA will expand it with auxiliary data from other sources. Knowledge of econometric software such as STATA or R is required. Knowledge of Spanish language at a basic level is recommended but not required. 
     

  12. Experimental Design as Market Design
    Yusuke Narita (yusuke.narita@yale.edu)

    This project investigates the design of randomized experiments with high-stakes treatment such as cancer treatment or basic income. Unlike usual designs, my approach not only randomly assigns treatment, but also caters to subjects’ welfare. As much as possible, the proposed design assigns a treatment to subjects with better predicted treatment effects or stronger preferences for the treatment, where predicted effects and preferences are freely correlated. My proposal also allows the designer to easily shut down the welfare consideration, in which case my proposal reduces to existing designs. I am applying the above theoretical idea to real data in a development/health context.

    Required skills: I am looking for an RA to help the empirical and computational implementation of the above theoretical idea.

    An ideal candidate is somebody who (1) has done coursework in theoretical and empirical/applied microeconomics (especially some of development, education, health, labor, and market design) and (2) has done coursework in or at the very least has a strong interest in coding up a theoretical idea into an efficient algorithm with a programming language such as Matlab, Python, or R.
     

  13. Global Muslim Attitudes
    Mushfiq Mobarak (ahmed.mobarak@yale.edu)

    Background: In recent years, terms such as “sharia law” and “Islamic extremism” have been used repeatedly by the media, politicians, and everyday people. The values and beliefs of Muslims are constantly being judged and, but most claims (positive and negative) about Muslims lack any significant quantitative proof behind them. For example, some argue that the violent extremists represent less than 1% of Muslims, whereas others believe that these Muslims represent the majority. It is becoming increasingly important to better understand Muslim attitudes on violence, gender equality, and other social issues. In this research project, we examine attitudes of Muslims as well as people with other religious identities according to their demographics from countries around the world.

    Datasets:
    Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa (2009)

    • Sample size: 25000

    • 19 countries (Djibouti, Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, etc.)

    • Respondents were mostly either Christian or Muslim, small number of traditional African religions/Unaffiliated Pew Muslim Attitudes (2012)

    • Sample size: 19360

    • 26 majority/major Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Algeria, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Tunisia, etc.)

    • Data retrieved from survey limited to only Muslim respondents World Values Survey (2005-2014)

    • Sample size: 90350

    • 59 countries from around the world (Albania, Algeria, Argentina, etc.)

    • Diverse population, respondents from many different backgrounds and religions

    Summary: The first step in the project was acquiring data from attitude surveys that covered large regions or parts of the world. The datasets above were picked because they include demographic info as well as questions of interest to the project, such as opinions on violence, women’s rights, homosexuality, etc. For example, the survey may ask, “Can violence against civilians be justified by religion?” If the respondent selects “Always/Sometimes Justifiable” he is exhibiting a negative attitude. Next, the data was cleaned and dummy variables were added, such as an indicator variable for each religion (Muslim, Christian, etc.). The questions of interest, our dependent variables, were also coded as binary, with a “1” indicating the negative or unfavorable attitude. We then regressed these variables, controlling for factors such as religion, income, education, gender, immigrant status, religiosity, age, and urbanity. Regressions were done with and also without country-fixed effects. Standard errors were clustered by country. The project has four general focuses: first, comparing the effect of Islam to the effects of other religions, both within and across nations. Next, we examined the effect of religiosity on attitudes, in order to reveal whether religious people were more or less likely to have the negative attitude. Third, we created indicator variables for different areas of the world (South Asia, Southeast Asia, etc.) in order to compare attitudes across regions. Fourth, we began to look at how a country’s trade relationship to the U.S. impacts opinions in a country by controlling for each country’s ratio of imports and exports with the U.S. over their GDP.
     

  14. The Impact of Trade Liberalization with China on the United States
    Prof Peter Schott (peter.schott@yale.edu)

    This project investigates the impact of the U.S. granting of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to China in the year 2000 on U.S. firms and    workers. (For background, see this paper.) Specific areas of investigation for this project include how this trade liberalization affected: (1) the flows of workers across industries as well as entry and exit from the labor force; (2) the flows of workers across regions; (3) capital investment by U.S. firms; (4) human capital accumulation by U.S. workers; and (4) product upgrading by Chinese firms. The principal task of the RAs will be to refine raw datasets collected from the web using STATA and to use the refined data to examine various outcomes via regression analysis, also using STATA.

1.    “Innovation and Production in the Global Economy”

Professor Costas Arkolakis

The RA will be asked to solve a problem of endogenous location and production of multinational firms in different markets. In particular, the task involves the development of a non-linear optimization routine. This routine will maximize a nonlinear function (profit of the firm) subject to different sets of possible constraints (constraints faced in different markets). The routine then needs to be ultimately designed to compute the maximum value attained under each possible set of constraints and compare these values to find the global firm optimum. The RA will be asked to help both in the design of the routine and the programming of an algorithm that can compute the solution. Prior knowledge of constraint optimization (linear or non-linear) or relevant techniques from computational physics is helpful. Good programming knowledge in matlab is essential.

2.     “Revisiting Chinatown”

Professor José Antonio Espín Sánchez

In the 1974 motion picture Chinatown the private investigator J. J. “Jake” Gites (Jack Nicholson) is involved in a conspiracy that involved corruption, deceit and “family secrets.” The goal of the conspirators consisted on buying the lands of unsuspected farmers in the Owens Valley (some 400 miles north of Los Angeles) and then building an aqueduct to bring the water to the city, where it would be worth a fortune. Although, this description is fictional and far from really, there is much controversy on the way the city of L.A. purchase the water and land rights in the Owens Valley.

The goal of the project is to gather individual unpublished detailed data of all the purchases of land and water rights (1905-1934). With the individual data we will be able to assess whether the prices paid were “fair.” We will also assess why some farmers and not others were able to organize in sellers’ pools. Finally we will test whether the city of L.A. established a purchasing patter of “checkers,” thereby isolating farmers’ properties in order to buy them later at a lower price.

The goal for the RA will be to help processing the data from the farmer’s plots. She will use GIS software to create maps of the plots and to transform that information into econometric analysis. Knowledge of GIS is advice, but it is not a prerequisite.

3.     “Re-thinking Models of Insurance Valuation for the Young and Privately Insured”

Professor Amanda Kowalski

Even though health conditions evolve over many years, private health insurance plans generally renew annually, potentially leaving some risks uninsured. In a given year, approximately 95% of medical expenditures are for the highest-spending 25% of individuals.  If these individuals have high expenditures across several years, then they will value public health insurance as a safety net to catch them should they lose their private coverage. In my working paper on this subject (http://www.econ.yale.edu/~ak669/longitudinal.latest.draft.pdf), I consider the value of public health insurance as a safety net for the young and privately insured, taking into account how individual medical expenditures evolve over time.  I demonstrate that methods of valuing health insurance that ignore the correlation of health expenditures over time fail to capture a large portion of the valuation of health insurance. I am currently undertaking a revision of this paper and would like a research assistant to help me implement theoretical and empirical changes to the methodology and to help with revising the text of the paper itself.

Candidates should have a strong familiarity with Stata, the ability to work with equations and models, and persuasive writing skills. This project requires the ability to understand, modify, and re-design very technical code in Stata. It also requires the ability to grasp theoretical concepts from microeconomics and then the ability to communicate them clearly, concisely, and persuasively.

In a first step, the work of the RA will involve collecting and organizing the data as well as constructing descriptive statistics and reporting them in tables and graphs. In a next step, some basic econometric analysis should be performed. The RA should have an interest in data work, familiarity with STATA and basic econometrics, as well as an interest in learning more independently.

4.    “Matching of Entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists”

Professor Ilse Lindenlaub

This is a new project aimed at understanding the matching between entrepreneurs/start-ups and venture capitalists. In particular, we want to understand “who matches with whom” in this market, which characteristics of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists matter most in the matching process and what are the trade-offs that agents face when searching for a match. We also want to analyze how matching patterns vary over the business cycle.

In a first step, the work of the RA will involve collecting and organizing the data as well as constructing descriptive statistics and reporting them in tables and graphs. In a next step, some basic econometric analysis should be performed. The RA should have an interest in data work, familiarity with STATA and basic econometrics, as well as an interest in learning more independently.

5.    “Urbanization, Growth and Structural Change”

Professor Michael Peters

Two important regularities of the growth process are: (1) Urbanization (i.e. a sustained movement from the countryside to cities) and (2) Structural change (i.e. a decline in the importance of agriculture and a rise in manufacturing and service employment). Wile these two aspects of economic development are clearly related, the underlying mechanisms are less understood.

One set of theories highlights demand side factors: as the economy develops and people get richer they spend relatively less of their income on food and more on services and goods. If services and goods are predominantly produced in cities, urbanization is a corollary of the growth process induced by changed in spending patterns. Another set of theories highlights supply side factors: if e.g. manufacturing firms benefit more from technological advances and innovation takes place in dense areas like cities, urbanization is a necessary ingredient for growth and causes structural transformation.

In this project, which is joint work with Fabian Eckert, who is a Phd Student at the Economics Department, we want to use detailed geographic data on employment patterns, land prices and worker mobility from Germany to distinguish these forces. Knowing the mechanism why urbanization and economic development are closely linked, is important to evaluate place-based policies (like city planning or moving restrictions), which are present in many developing countries today like China and India.

This is an empirical project using geographic data. Hence, it would be very helpful if applicants had experience in GIS using historical maps or were eager to learn these skills on the job. Furthermore, some experience in applied econometrics and working knowledge of STATA would be a plus.

6.    “Understanding the Determinants of Foreign Aid”

Professor Nancy Qian

Foreign aid is the most important development policy tool and the United States is the largest aid donor. At the same time, there is little evidence on the benefits of foreign aid for poor recipient countries. One reason may be that aid is simply not targeted to improve outcomes in poor countries, and is instead spent to benefit the citizens of donor countries. This project examines the latter hypothesis with U.S. Aid data. Research assistance is required for data construction, cleaning and simple analysis. Knowledge in Python and Stata are useful.

7.   “Explaining Declines in Air Pollution from US Manufacturing”

Professor Joseph Shapiro

Between 1990 and 2008, emissions of the most common air pollutants from U.S. manufacturing fell by 60 percent, even as U.S. manufacturing output grew substantially. Most of this reduction stems from decreases in the amount of pollution emitted per unit of output rather than changes in the quantities or types of products produced. Several competing theories explain why pollution per unit of output has been falling in U.S. manufacturing. I am seeking help exploring the historical evolution of a few manufacturing industries for evidence on how changes in production technologies have contributed to declines in emissions intensity. This involves compiling and analyzing industry-specific information. 

No previous knowledge of specific software or programming languages is required.

8.   “Analyzing Differences between US and Russia Attitudes Towards Markets and Democracy”

Professor Robert Shiller

In 1991, 25 years ago and at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union, I wrote a paper with Maxim Boycko of Russia and Vladimir Korobov of Ukraine, comparing attitudes towards free markets between Moscow and New York. The results can be seen here: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3453

We then did identical telephone surveys in the two cities, and compared the results. We wish now to do a followup of that paper, 25 years later, to see if Russian and American attitudes have changed, and also to append some questions about attitudes towards democracy. I need a research assistant to scour the literature about changing attitudes in these two countries, so that we can be cognizant of others’ observations, to attend to details of the survey implementation, and perhaps other things. We must have this paper done by early December, as we are slated to present it at the American Economic Association meetings January 4, 2016. I will be in Turkey until September 2, 2015.

9.   “Mapping Global Ties”

Professor Tsyvinski

I am looking for an RA with a strong background in network analysis and economics. RAs duties will include analyzing a new dataset of global issues and tying the analysis with economic data. The dataset covers qualitative knowledge on countries, industries and global issues. The project seeks to map these issues using the tools of network analysis, detect the most salient issues, and the connections among them. The overarching goal is to use the tools of connecting both the soft information on global issues and the quantitative insight from the economics data to study the changing nature of global ties.

1.     “Women’s Life Cycle Productivity in Bangladeshi Villages”
       Professor T. Paul Schultz

The Tobin Research Assistant would need to know how to manage large data files with STATA software and apply regression methods to account for labor and demographic behavioral differences.  I have the basic data files and a copy of STATA 13 for their use. The objective will be to understand the mechanisms by which women increase their earnings, who are provided access to modern, more reliable birth control methods and improved child health inputs on a regular continuing basis. A central question is whether the reduced fertility attributable to the program intervention impacts the woman’s health, body mass index, and thus her labor productivity, or whether the reduction in the morbidity of the woman’s children reduces the demands on her time for child care, allowing her to dedicate more time to predictable work schedules and thereby acquire more vocational experience which is expected to raise her wage. However, increases in her wages are expected to exert both a price (of time) and an offsetting income effect on her desire to work more in the paid labor force for those who were previously working for wages. To quantify this income effect it will be necessary to measure the woman’s or household’s wealth, that may be approximated by the ownership and value of land in these poor agricultural villages. Individual, household, and village data from the NIH 1997 Matlab Socioeconomic Household Survey may then be linked to the Census data from 1974 and perhaps to the Census of 1986. I estimate that the student working about 10 hours per week starting about September 2014 until about December 2014 might complete the first stage of the work, and student then could apply to continue their own work on questions of their design, that could evolve into the student’s research project for their senior essay.

2.  ” Long-Run Consequences of the Clean Water Act”
       Professor Joseph Shapiro

Since the U.S. passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, public and private sources together have spent roughly a trillion dollars to decrease water pollution. Almost half of stream and river miles, however, still have water quality so poor that they violate local standards. This research will use new data to assess whether U.S. water quality has improved since the Clean Water Act and will quantify the contributions of the Act to any observed improvements. Research assistance is sought for several tasks: compiling water quality data; concording water pollution codes across datasets; cleaning and merging digitized historic data in Stata; and other tasks that may arise.

3.  Understanding the Impact of the Inception of Medicaid
       Professor Amanda Kowalski

Medicaid, the United States health insurance program for the poor, was established in 1965.  Because of data limitations involved in following up on individuals enrolled in the program almost 50 years later, very little is known about the long term impact of Medicaid on health and labor market outcomes. The Medicaid program is administered by the states, which set their own eligibility guidelines and change them over time. As part of an ongoing project on the long term impact of Medicaid, I would like a research assistant to help me to develop a calculator for Medicaid eligibility that varies across states and time. The first part of this project will involve library research to find Medicaid eligibility thresholds by state in the early years of the program. This portion of the project is largely complete, but additional library research could be necessary. The second part will involve standardizing information from library research and existing calculators to develop a complete calculator for all states and program years in Stata. Some of this portion the project is already complete, but only for later program years, so the candidate will focus on eligibility around inception. The third part will involve regression analysis using the American Community Survey.

Candidates should have a strong familiarity with Stata and an interest in learning more independently. The research assistant will sit in a shared office in the ISPS building at Yale with full-time research assistants working on other health economics projects. The research assistant will also have the opportunity to learn about and potentially participate in those projects, depending on progress on the main project.

The research assistant will be responsible for exploring and analyzing the health insurance variables within New York SPARCS hospital discharge data and reporting results using tables and graphs. Preliminary results will determine next steps. Candidates should have a basic understanding of Stata and an interest in learning more independently.

4.  “The Economy of People’s Republic of China from 1953”
       
Professor Aleh Tsyvinski

Requirement: fluency in Chinese (at the native level). The project studies structural transformation of the Chinese economy from 1953 to present. Main responsibility of the RA will be constructing various macroeconomic datasets, mostly for the pre-reform (pre-1978 period). Extensive library work with primary source Chinese statistical data both at the national and the provincial level is expected.
 

5.  “Economic and demographic change in the long run
       Professor Timothy Guinnane

This project studies the relationship between population and the economy over the very long run (approximately 1600-1914) in a region of southwestern Germany.  Economists today believe that demographic behavior is closely-connected to education and other issues that potentially affect economic growth. This region of Germany has historical records that make it possible to compile and use especially rich quantitative sources.

Most of the relevant data has already been entered into spreadsheets. The student assistant will help to organize the data and perform preliminary graphical and econometric analysis.

Facility with Excel is required. Some knowledge of Stata is also useful. A student who reads German will be able to help with a broader variety of tasks, but knowledge of the language is not necessary.

6.  “The Effect of Electricity Supply on Industrialization”
       Professor Nicholas Ryan

Firms in developing countries are often numerous, small and unproductive, which may be in part due to poor infrastructure limiting firm technology and size. This project will aim to measure how a major expansion of electricity supply in a large Indian state affected industrialization, mainly on the dimensions of firm entry, investment and employment in manufacturing. The Research Assistant will organize and clean a new database on manufacturing firms from industrial registration records, analyze trends in firm entry and size, and merge this database at a fine geographic scale with data on a recent expansion of the electricity grid, to assess whether this grid expansion contributed to industrialization. The RA should have a strong interest in working with data and basic competence with Stata. Experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and an interest in energy issues are helpful. Basic familiarity with Stata and interest in environment/energy issues are useful though not required.

7.  “Cheap Industrial Workers and the Big Push: Evidence from Germany’s Post-war Population Transfer”
       Professor Michael Peters

In this project I want to study the long-run consequences of labor migration on local labor markets. To do so, I exploit a natural experiment, which arguably generates exogenous variation in population mobility. After the Second World War, the German population of the Eastern Territories (what is now Poland and parts of Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic) was expelled and transferred to Western Germany. Within the 18 months from late 1946 to early 1948, roughly 8 million people were transferred. At the time, this amounted to 20% of the German post-war population. The allocation within Germany was decided upon by the Military Governments of the US (in their zone in Southern Germany) and the UK (in their zone in Northern German). There is ample cross-sectional variation of the initial allocation of expellees across counties within Germany and both institutional and geographical features make it possible to construct instruments for the initial allocation. To study the long-run consequences of these labor supply shocks on the respective local labor markets, I want to use microdata from both the German Population Census and the Manufacturing Census, which can be linked to the respective counties. The preliminary findings are as follows:

1. On impact, i.e., in the late 1940s, there is massive reallocation of factors, in that the vast majority of refugees start working as unskilled workers in the manufacturing industries.

2. Counties that received a large share of refugees in 1946 have higher employment shares in manufacturing in 1975 and are intensive in jobs, which use unskilled-bias technologies.

3. Counties that received a large share of refugees in 1946 have higher average wages in 1975. These preliminary findings are qualitatively consistent with “big-push-type”-growth models, where market-size effects induce the emergence of new production techniques, which in turn increase aggregate TFP, wages and welfare.

Required Skills
As this project is mostly empirical and uses microdata, it would be helpful if a potential research assistant had some experience in applied econometric analysis and working knowledge of STATA. Furthermore, the project will require some GIS work using historical maps to exploit the regional variation in the data. While previous experience with GIS software would be a plus, I believe these skills could also be acquired on the job. Finally, knowledge of German
would be extremely helpful as the primary data sources are in German.

1.  “Experiments on Microfinance in Developing Countries”

       Professor Dean Karlan

The research assistant will help analyze data from experiments in developing countries on microfinance and other policy experiments. The research assistant must either know Stata already or be comfortable taking on the task of learning Stata independently, and quickly.

Examples of projects include http://karlan.yale.edu/p/sme_consulting_mexico.pdf andhttp://karlan.yale.edu/p/eui13.pdf, as well as several on savings experiments motivated by theories from behavioral economics.

2.  “The Effects of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes” 
       Professors Steven Berry and Philip Haile

This is a new project aimed at understanding how campaign spending affects voting in U.S. congressional and presidential elections. The end product will be an empirical analysis of data on expenditures, candidate characteristics, and voting, relying on a model of voter preferences. The initial work for the RA will involve gathering and organizing the data. Later, the RA will perform descriptive data analysis and eventually move on to an initial econometric analysis using instrumental variables. The RA should have a strong interest in working with data, some experience working with Stata (or similar software), and (especially) a willingness to learn more independently.

3.  “The Growth and Development of Libertarian Economics in the USA in the postwar period”
      Professor William Nordhaus

This study will trace the development of libertarian and conservative economic thinking since 1945. It will trace the role of the economic shocks, the Great Depression, and central planning as formative elements. Key thinkers will focus on Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Joseph Schumpeter, Milton Friedman, William Buckley, and Jeffrey Miron, as well as trace the influence of the Mon Pelerin Society. The student RA will gather materials and summarize arguments from the different thinkers. Students should have completed introduction micro and macro and intermediate micro.

4.  “Major Historical Big Pushes from the point of view of Macroeconomics
       
Professor Aleh Tsyvinski

The RA will work on a project of studying major historical big pushes from the point of view of macroeconomics. We have already studied one such push — Stalin’s industrialization. More broadly, we want to compare Stalin’s Great Break, Japan’s Meiji Revolution, China’s Great Leap Forward, Turkey under Ataturk, and India under Nehru. The RA will be involved both in collecting, constructing, and analyzing long-term historical data series as well as doing extensive historical readings on the policies and the background for each or some of the countries.

5.  “Exploring Health Insurance Reclassification Risk Using Hospital Data”
       Professor Amanda Kowalski

As a result of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, we will soon see a significant number of changes to the health insurance market. One such change is the elimination of reclassification risk, or the risk that a change in health status will lead to a change in insurability. The main objective of this project is to measure the value of reducing reclassification risk in health insurance markets.

The research assistant will be responsible for exploring and analyzing the health insurance variables within New York SPARCS hospital discharge data and reporting results using tables and graphs. Preliminary results will determine next steps. Candidates should have a basic understanding of Stata and an interest in learning more independently. 

6.  “Understanding Child Development and Parental Investments in Developing Countries
       Professor Costas Meghir

Child poverty is an important social problem in many countries. This has far-reaching implications for the life of the individual and for future generations: child poverty is associated with worse adult outcomes (such as education, health and earnings); it is also associated with bad outcomes for the next generation as poor parents tend to invest less in their children leading to negative developmental outcomes thus perpetuating poverty. In other words there is a cycle of intergenerational transmission of deprivation.

The main object is to be able to design policies that are capable of breaking such an intergenerational transmission mechanism and providing better (or even equal) opportunities for people to benefit from economic development. The first step in such a process is to understand the dynamics of poverty, the mechanisms that lead to under performance and the role of parental behavior in nutrition and learning.

A great research opportunity for both cross-country comparisons and longitudinal research on child poverty has been provided by the Young lives Survey project which has collects individual level data over a number of years with focus on children in Ethiopia, Peru, Vietnam and India. The RA will help me understand the data and describe child poverty and its dynamics and in these four countries. Overall this fits in with my research agenda on early childhood development and education. More details on the Child Development research, and  the  experimental work in Colombia can be found onmy website.

7.  “Sources of Demand for Rural Electricity: Evidence from the US Rural Electrification Act
       Professor Joseph Shapiro

1.2 billion people across the world lack access to electricity, mostly in rural areas. This research studies the consequences of rural electrification by analyzing the Rural Electrification Act (REA), which provided electricity to about 12 million Americans over the period 1936-1957. Research assistance is needed with several tasks: digitizing historical reports; preparing archival maps for econometric analysis; and possibly preparing data for analysis (using Stata). Basic familiarity with Stata and interest in environment/energy issues are useful though not required.