Research Associate- Saharsh Happiness Curriculum- J-PAL South Asia

J-PAL South Asia
  • India
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
Start Date (Earliest):
Language Requirement:
  • Bengali
Length of Commitment:

About the Organization

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of 194 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty. J-PAL South Asia, based at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in India, leads J-PAL’s work in the South Asia region. J-PAL South Asia conducts randomized evaluations, builds partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking, and helps partners scale up effective programs. Over more than ten years of existence, J-PAL South Asia has conducted 193 ongoing and completed randomized evaluations.

About the position

J-PAL South Asia at the Institute for Financial Management and Research seeks qualified applicants for the position of Research Associate to lead impact evaluations in India. The position offers an opportunity to gain first-hand field management experience in an organization undertaking cutting-edge development research. The Research Associate will join a team of world-class researchers from leading universities in the world and will gain first-hand experience implementing randomized control trials in an organization undertaking cutting-edge development research Read more about our work and projects here.

Project Specific Details-

Study Summary: The Saharsh happiness curriculum was developed by the government of Tripura, India and Labhya Foundation, and will be implemented in grades 1-8 across Tripura public schools in the 2023-2024 school year. The curriculum consists of daily happiness classes, where students engage in mindfulness, storytelling with open-ended discussions, and reflective conversations and activities designed to help students experience happiness. This study would be the first to evaluate the effectiveness of a happiness curriculum, exploring its impact on student mental health, wellness, and academic achievement. Further, this study will compare the benefits of the curriculum to the opportunity cost of reduced learning time, explore the mechanisms by which the curriculum adds value by comparing to a mindfulness-only curriculum, and evaluate the impact and malleability of teacher buy-in, perceptions of mental health, and comprehension. In doing so, we seek to assess the value of one of the largest non-cognitive skills and socioemotional learning initiatives in the world, and its potential as a driver of improved youth mental health.

PI Details:

Avinash Moorthy: Avinash is a Ph.D. Candidate at Harvard University, where he is a Stone Ph.D. scholar in Inequality and Wealth Concentration and an affiliate of the Centre for International Development. His research focuses on mental health, social capital, and career choice in schools.

Kevin Carney: Kevin is a postdoctoral scholar at the Development Innovation Lab at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D from Harvard University and has 10 years of experience conducting policy research in development economics, including a portfolio of projects about youth mental health in India.

Research Associates work closely with Research Managers & Principal Investigators who guide and supervise them in their various tasks.

Key Responsibilities

Research Associates work closely with academic researchers and other field staff to perform a variety tasks including, but not limited to:

  • Designing survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative research, running pilot exercises, refining study design and survey instruments
  • Managing teams: Recruit, train, and supervise both field-based and data operations teams consisting of project assistants, field managers, field-based surveyors, data entry operators and other field and office staff
  • Supervising data collection and data entry to ensure good data quality during both these phases
  • Co-ordinating with the Administrative and Finance team on a variety of tasks related to field staff contracting and payments
  • Overseeing the implementation of the evaluation in accordance to the research design in association with our partner organization
  • Ensuring that the project complies with IRB and JPAL data collection and security protocols with the help of the Research Manager
  • Maintaining relationship with partner organizations at both headquarters and field levels
  • Assisting with data cleaning and preliminary data analysis
  • Assisting in preparation of documents and presentations for donor reporting as well as dissemination activities
  • Reporting to PIs on all of the above mentioned activities 
  • Any other task as assigned by the Research Manager, AD Research or ED

Desired Qualifications

  • A Bachelor's/Master’s degree in economics, social sciences, public policy, education or related fields
  • Experience living in a developing country is a strong plus
  • Previous experience in development research preferred
  • Excellent management and organizational skills along with strong quantitative skills
  • Fluency and excellent communication skills in English
  • Some conversational-level skills in regional languages such as Bengali.
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and team player
  • Demonstrated ability to manage high-level relationships with partner organizations
  • Knowledge of Stata (strongly preferred) or other data analysis software is preferred
  • Familiarity with randomized controlled trials/clinical trials/quasi-experiments preferred
  • Ability to deal with unstructured and changing environment 
  • Ability to work independently and in rural field locations

Note on Work Authorizations:

Candidates must have work authorization to work in India.

How to Apply

If you are interested in this position, please click on the apply button on the JD here; the first-time users will be asked to sign up and upload your CV, cover letter, and academic transcripts (optional). 

Any queries, please write to [email protected]