Research Analyst, Global Poverty Research Lab - Northwestern University

Northwestern University
  • United States of America
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Other advanced degree
  • Honours
Start Date (Earliest):
Start Date (Latest):
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 staff, including research managers and 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.

GPRL also works in close collaboration with research teams at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) to coordinate field data collection, disseminate evidence and create shared training and research resources.

The Position  

GPRL 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.

Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States. GPRL is unable to sponsor visas for this position. 

How to Apply

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”. Include a resume, transcripts, and two recommendation letters (optional at this stage of the application but will be required if you progress to the final round). In the cover letter section, please upload a document answering the following questions instead of a traditional cover letter:

  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.
  5. Have you applied for a role at GPRL previously? If yes, specify which role and in which year.