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David Atkin

Assistant Professor of Economics Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David Atkin is an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at MIT. His research focuses on evaluating the impacts of trade liberalization on the poor in the developing world. His recent work has studied the role of regional taste differences in altering the impacts of trade reforms in India, and educational responses to the rise of export oriented manufacturing in Mexico.

Atkin holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University.

Featured Affiliate Interview

I'm just starting a project in Mexico evaluating a large-scale grants program that provides money to promising startups. We are trying to understand not just whether such programs boost growth but also how to more effectively allocate money to the best firms.

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What got you interested in development economics and international trade?

I was fortunate to travel a lot when I was young, and I'd always been fascinated by the very different economic environments I would observe. When I was choosing what to focus on at grad school, I was struck by the fact that trade discussions in policy circles and the popular press in the US almost always focused on trade with the developing world. At the same time, policy discussions in developing countries often fixated on how trade could be harnessed to generate rapid growth. Yet the trade field typically focused on issues unrelated to development, and the development literature on issues mostly unrelated to trade, so there seemed to be a need for more research at this intersection.

What is one current research project that you're particularly excited about?

I'm just starting a project in Mexico evaluating a large-scale grants program that provides money to promising startups. We are trying to understand not just whether such programs boost growth but also how to more effectively allocate money to the best firms.

What is your "dream evaluation"? (It doesn't have to be feasible!)

There is far too little work in economics thinking about industrial policy. My dream and totally infeasible evaluation would be to randomly allocate several classic industrial development strategies across many different regions or countries.