Note: This position is for J-PAL North America at MIT, based in Cambridge, MA, and will focus exclusively on policy related to the United States and Canada. For those interested in both international development and poverty issues in developed countries, please see our job posting for Policy Analyst - J-PAL Global.
The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a network of affiliated professors from over 30 universities who conduct randomized evaluations (randomized controlled trials, RCTs) of social policies aimed at ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence. J-PAL’s three core activities are:
- Conducting Rigorous Impact Evaluations: J-PAL conducts randomized evaluations to test and improve the effectiveness of programs and social policies.
- Building Capacity: Providing expertise for people interested in rigorous program evaluation and training others to conduct randomized evaluations.
- Informing Policy: Disseminating the results of J-PAL affiliates’ research to policymakers, identifying the most cost-effective ways to achieve policy goals, and promoting the scale-up of highly effective policies and programs.
J-PAL North America (J-PAL NA) is the newest regional center at J-PAL and focuses on promoting and supporting randomized evaluations in the United States and Canada, advocating for evidence informed social policy, and building capacity of policymakers and researchers from these countries in using and commissioning such evidence.
J-PAL NA is led by two Scientific Directors, Amy Finkelstein (MIT) and Lawrence Katz (Harvard). Please listen to this short interview with Lawrence Katz, where he explains his vision for J-PAL North America: http://govinnovator.com/lawrence_katz/
J-PAL NA seeks a Policy Analyst to support its mission of promoting evidence based policy by contributing significantly to the design and execution of J-PAL’s policy outreach work. The Policy Analyst is a junior-level position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, MA. Policy Analysts are eligible for internal promotion to Policy Associate after two to three years of work at J-PAL, and such promotions are based solely on their performance and ability.
- Research relationships: Working with the Policy Manager to assist in building and maintaining strong relationships with researchers working on randomized evaluations in North America. Serving as a resource for J-PAL NA affiliates interested in conducting randomized evaluations. Regularly communicating with J-PAL Global (the headquarters of J-PAL, also based at MIT) and other regional offices, especially J-PAL Europe at Paris School of Economics and J-PAL Latin America at PUC-Chile to ensure that J-PAL NA uses and contributes to the research generated by J-PAL’s international network.
- Policy Outreach: Analysts have the opportunity to attend conferences, participate in meetings with key partners in governments, legislatures, non-profits, foundations, multilateral aid agencies, and the private sector across the United States and Canada, and develop public speaking skills.
- Policy Publications and Analysis: Working with Policy Manager and J-PAL’s Global Policy Group to (a) create policy memos and publications that “translate” J-PAL’s economic research into policy lessons for dissemination to policy makers around the world, and (b) provide research and writing assistance on academic literature reviews, policy memos, funding proposals, special initiatives, and comparative cost-effectiveness studies (see for example http://www.povertyactionlab.org/policy-lessons)
- Program Assistance: Policy Analysts have the opportunity to develop specialized knowledge in one of J-PAL’s seven Program areas of Agriculture, Education, Environment and Energy, Finance and Microfinance, Health, Labor Markets, and Political Economy and Governance. They work closely with Policy Managers to support initiatives within each program area.
- Organizational: Assisting with the management of J-PAL’s website, with over 17,000 unique visitors per month; serving as point of contact and backup for senior J-PAL NA team staff; helping to organize thematic or regional policy conferences and seminars; managing internal information systems like Salesforce and SharePoint.
- Education: This position requires a bachelor’s degree including significant training in economics. At minimum, intermediate-level economics, econometrics, and calculus are required. A strong technical understanding of economics is necessary to ensure that J-PAL’s findings are translated into policy lessons in a way that is both simple to follow but also accurate and undistorted. The ideal candidate for this position will be knowledgeable about and interested in public policy issues in the U.S. and Canada, as demonstrated by coursework and/or professional experience. Interest in international development issues is also preferred (though not essential) to better understand the work of other J-PAL centers worldwide.
- Communication: Attention to detail and advanced writing and presentation skills for communicating policy lessons from academic papers in ways that policymakers understand. This requires clear, precise, non-technical writing, and creativity in presentation.
- Time Management: Proven ability to multitask and successfully complete projects on tight deadlines with little supervision. A willingness to work hard, be self-motivated, and learn will be essential for doing well in this position.
- Software Proficiency: Comfort learning computer applications, including SharePoint and Salesforce.
- Willingness to work long hours, travel mostly within the US and Canada, but sometimes internationally as well, and a desire to learn.
Note: This position is not eligible for any type of Visa sponsorship via MIT. This position is based at the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA and telecommuting from another city is not an option.
For applicants with 4 or more years of experience, please see our job posting for Policy Manager, J-PAL North America.