Economic Development in Ghana Early Childhood Development in India Firm Dynamics in Developing Countries
As a research assistant, Shih supported multiple different projects focused on economic development. For one of his primary projects, he worked on a team led by Professor Christopher Udry at Northwestern, who is also the former chair of the Yale economics department and former EGC affiliate, to curate and analyze panel data from a large-scale, nation-wide panel survey in Ghana conducted by EGC and the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research at the University of Ghana, Legon. Meanwhile, he also assisted Professors Costas Meghir and Orazio Attanasio on a randomized control trial study assessing the effects of various interventions on early childhood development in Odisha, India. Specifically, the research assessed the effectiveness of weekly home visits and mother-child group sessions on a variety of outcomes including child cognition, language, motor development, growth and morbidity.
In addition to his empirical work, he also had the opportunity to interview Professor Michael Peters about his research on firm dynamics in developing countries. Looking back, he appreciated the variety of different projects he had the opportunity to work on. “The projects I worked on were quite different in nature,” Shih said. “Some were quite structured, while others were in earlier stages of development and had more flexibility.”
In his experience, Shih felt educationally well-prepared to pursue additional economic research work, but as a student, he lacked further hands-on research experience. For him, the IDE Research Assistantship program was the perfect opportunity to acquire the necessary skills and experiences to pursue a PhD later on. Looking back, he reiterated the value of the robust Stata training he received at the beginning of the program. He also recalls the importance of just being able to explore the different panels of data and critically thinking about how to work with large datasets to answer economic research questions. Now, as Shih applies for PhD programs, he points to the research assistantship program as an invaluable experience during his time at Yale. “It can be hard to get research experience, especially during the pandemic, but this experience adds to my CV, and it has a lot of weight,” he said.