Postdoctoral Fellow - Effective Governance - J-PAL South Asia

J-PAL South Asia
  • India
  • Master's
  • Other advanced degree
Start Date (Earliest):
Length of Commitment:
Two years

Position Overview 

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab South Asia (J-PAL SA) is looking for outstanding candidates for a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship under a new collaboration with the Center for Effective Governance (CEGIS). The position, which is open to recent graduates of Ph.D. programs as well as junior academics, will provide opportunities to conduct research on topics related to development, governance, state capacity, and program implementation quality, as well as sector-specific policy reforms. A strong cross-cutting theme across these topics is improving the quality and use of administrative data for better governance and monitoring of progress. The fellow will primarily work with Prof. Karthik Muralidharan (UCSD), and also with other J-PAL affiliates and co-PIs on CEGIS-JPAL projects in various states of India, with an initial focus on Telangana and Delhi. 


The fellowship will be positioned in J-PAL South Asia’s Innovations in Data and Experiments for Action (IDEA) Lab, a dedicated unit within the research vertical focused on leveraging administrative data for research and policy action. The work will be conducted in close partnership with the Center for Effective Governance of Indian States (CEGIS), which aims to work closely with Indian state governments to improve governance through independent measurement of outcomes, strategic budgeting, and personnel management. The successful candidate will also have an opportunity to engage in an advisory capacity on a number of exploratory projects curated by the IDEA Lab for future research. 

The position offers the opportunity to join a team of leading development economists with a strong track record of publication and policy impact, and to produce research and analysis that is likely to have a substantial impact on policy in India. The position is ideally suited for someone interested in an academic career in India or in a career in policy-relevant research. The position will provide both active mentoring from senior scholars, and also lead to a pipeline of high-quality research. 

The position is open to a candidate who has recently earned a Ph.D. in Economics, Public Policy, other quantitative social sciences, applied statistics, data science, or information systems (including GIS), with a focus on development/public/labor economics, applied statistics/econometrics, or applied data sciences with a focus on policy applications. Significant applied econometrics skills are expected as well as strong written and verbal communication skills. The ideal candidate will also have a deep interest in India, and Indian economic policy. We also highly value the ability to work effectively in teams and to produce high-quality analytical output in policy-relevant time frames.  

The position will be based at the J-PAL SA and will initially be for 2 years (extendable based on mutual agreement).

The target start date for the position is summer 2021, with some flexibility on the exact start date. 

Role Structure 

The Post-Doctoral Fellow will work full-time at J-PAL SA. Their responsibilities will be structured as follows:

  • 70% of time will be spent working with Prof. Karthik Muralidharan and his project-specific collaborators on JPAL and CEGIS projects. These projects will lead to both policy reports as well as peer-reviewed papers.    
  • 30% of time will be dedicated to conducting their own research projects independently or with J-PAL affiliates / invited researchers, and on advising IDEA lab projects and exploring research possibilities with the IDEA lab.
  • Commitment: Minimum 2 years 

Expected responsibilities to support CEGIS projects

  • Provide technical guidance on drafting research frameworks for projects which could include system diagnostic, field evaluations, and assessments using administrative data. 
  • Contribute to data analysis required to generate policy insights for the government
  •  Support development of tools and frameworks for CEGIS workstreams aligned with CEGIS theory of change that can be replicated across states
  • Review tools, approach and analysis plans designed by the team for projects
  • Formulate frameworks for economic analysis of various policies and programmes of the government and provide analysis of different programmes, as needed
  •  Undertake in-depth studies on the impact of major economic development policies and programmes as required
  • Disseminate results of these studies through various forms as required, including policy notes and presentations
  • Participate in meetings with senior bureaucrats and officials at the state and national levels
  • Conduct training sessions for the team, as required 

Expected responsibilities to support J-PAL SA, research projects, and the IDEA lab:

  • Provide research guidance and methodology expertise, on a need-basis, in guiding research associates and interns on exploratory analysis for proof-of-concept projects using large administrative datasets
  • Contribute to the development of knowledge resources and methodology best practices developed by the IDEA team for use by researchers and data providers, in coordination with J-PAL’s Global IDEA team
  • Support the IDEA team on capacity building and advisory services with government partners on strengthening the quality and use of administrative data for policy research and action 
  • Represent J-PAL South Asia at meetings and conferences related to the portfolio
  •  Support J-PAL South Asia’s internal L&D interventions 


The total compensation package and benefits will be highly competitive relative to junior faculty pay scales in India. The position will be based out of Delhi/Hyderabad. 


  • Ph.D. in economics, public policy, other quantitative social sciences, applied statistics, or information systems (including GIS), with a focus on development/public/labor economics, applied statistics/econometrics, or applied data sciences with a focus on policy applications.
  • Demonstrated interest in conducting high-quality research, policy design, and impact evaluations
  • Demonstrated ability to collaborate with government partners, including working on administrative data.
  • Deep understanding of Indian government, key bottlenecks, and policy-making process.
  •  Experience in compiling and using large and complex datasets, and awareness of all major research datasets on India.
  • Ability to effectively communicate academic research to varying audiences, particularly policymakers.
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and team player 

How to Apply

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the RESEARCH job category, then select "Postdoctoral Fellow - Effective Governance - J-PAL South Asia ” and include a resume, cover letter, transcripts, and two recommendation letters. Note that applications with incomplete submissions will not be considered.

You are able to submit your application before your references complete their recommendation letters; however, you must include their contact information before submitting your application. Given the volume of applications received, only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview.