Research Analyst - Global Poverty Research Lab, Northwestern University

Northwestern University
  • United States of America
  • Some post-secondary education
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Other advanced degree
Start Date (Earliest):
Language Requirement:
  • English
Length of Commitment:
Two years

Who we are (focus of the lab’s work):

At the Global Poverty Research Lab (GPRL)—a research center based at Northwestern University—we generate empirical evidence on the effectiveness of policies and programs to help people throughout the world improve their standard of living. Our projects examine the interaction between poverty and topics such as finance, entrepreneurship, education, gender, agriculture, health, and the environment.

GPRL’s research primarily involves designing, monitoring, and analyzing data from multi-faceted randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We test whether interventions and programs such as crop insurance, job training, and cognitive behavioral therapy can improve the well-being of people in the developing world, and what are the most cost-effective ways of implementing them. We conduct or support dozens of RCTs in more than 10 countries in the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, China, and Southeast Asia.

We believe we can produce more and better research by creating a common infrastructure whether geographic or sectoral, upon which to then engage in research and policy work. Geographic research clusters in Ghana and the Philippines collect long-term panel data on economic and social outcomes. Our researchers also work to improve research methodologies for using survey data, machine learning, and meta-analysis in the context of international development. For this purpose, the research methods initiative, in collaboration with Innovations for Poverty Action, supports systematic studies into how to improve the methods and measurement of key outcomes in global poverty research.

Our Team (Co-Directors, PIs, and team setup)

GPRL is co-directed by Dean Karlan and Christopher Udry, who are professors at the Kellogg School of Management and the Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences’ economics department at Northwestern University respectively. Professor Karlan studies the microeconomic factors affecting poverty, such as income generation, household and entrepreneurial finance, and health behavior. Professor Udry focuses on rural economic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa, including technological change, risk and financial markets, gender, and psychological well-being. Our 21 staff, including research managers and 12 research analysts, support our co-directors’ projects and work closely with GPRL’s many affiliated professors, as well as their coauthors at universities, NGOs, and research institutions around the world.

Job Summary:  

The Global Poverty Research Lab is hiring a full-time Research Analyst to work closely with Dean Karlan and Christopher Udry on cutting-edge research in the field of development economics. This position offers an opportunity to gain first-hand experience with managing and analyzing data from a range of sources, including surveys conducted as part of randomized field experiments, administrative records from financial institutions and NGOs, and long-term panel surveys.

Core responsibilities

  • Cleaning survey or administrative datasets and preparing them for analysis
  • Conducting analysis using different statistical and econometric tools
  • Preparing tables and figures with empirical results for publications and presentations
  • Designing and programming survey instruments
  • Supporting data quality checks for ongoing surveys
  • Assisting in the writing of project reports

Additional responsibilities as needed:

  • Supporting the PIs and other research staff with project management when required
  • Corresponding with external partner organizations and donors as needed

The research analyst will work in an open, collaborative environment with other GPRL staff in our common lab space at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (Chicago area). The position offers the opportunity to interact with economics undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty at Northwestern. It is well suited to candidates interested in pursuing graduate study in economics or other social sciences in the future. The research analyst will be a full-time employee of Northwestern University with full benefits (including the ability to take classes at a highly-subsidized tuition rate). 

We are looking for a minimum commitment period of two years for this position.

Minimum Qualifications (Education, experience, and any other certifications or clearances):

Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree in economics or another quantitative major.

Minimum Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities.)

  1. Strong programming skills in Stata
  2. Strong quantitative skills (coursework in econometrics and statistics)
  3. Familiarity with randomized controlled trials
  4. Excellent organizational skills
  5. Fluency and excellent communication skills in English
  6. Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and work in teams

Preferred Qualifications: (Education and experience)

  1. An enthusiasm for empirical research and the ability and interest to learn new skills
  2. Experience living or working in a developing country

Preferred Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities)

  1. Familiarity with R/ArcGIS/Python

Application Instructions

Candidates should submit a resume or CV, but should NOT submit a conventional cover letter. Instead, we would like you to answer the following 4 questions in a document and upload it to the cover letter section of the application. Please be as concise as possible, limiting your responses to up to 130 words per question. Responses to the 4 questions should be included in a single document that contains the questions along with your answers.


  1. What is the most relevant experience (pick one) that has prepared you for this position and why?
  2. What do you hope to learn and achieve by working with us?
  3. Tell us about a time you could not complete a task or achieve a deadline. How did you deal with it?
  4. Have you ever taught yourself a skill? What was it and how did you teach yourself? Note: this does not have to be a skill related to this job.

Given the volume of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.

How to Apply

If you are interested, please;

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select "Research Analyst - Global Poverty Research Lab, Northwestern University” and include resume, the answers to our 4 questions in place of the 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.