Senior 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:

GPRL is looking to hire a full-time Senior Research Analyst (Senior RA) to begin as soon as possible. The Senior RA will work on the Research Methods Initiative, which is a collaboration between Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and GPRL that supports systematic studies into how to improve the methods and measurement of key outcomes in global poverty research. This position offers an opportunity to implement methodological studies across many projects, including randomized evaluations across several countries. The ideal candidate would have strong interests in research methods and measurement including questionnaire design, sampling, fieldwork implementation, and research design.

The Senior RA will work closely with Professor Andrew Dillon (academic lead for the research methods initiative), other Principal Investigators (PIs), Research Managers, and staff at GPRL and IPA to perform a variety of tasks including (but not limited to):

Project management:

  • Support the design and implementation of various types of studies in coordination with IPA country offices
  • Support project management by ensuring adherence to quality protocols and tracking timelines
  • Support PIs and Research Managers in project development efforts
  • Assist in the writing of project reports, funding proposals, literature reviews and academic papers

Data analysis and survey design:

  • Develop, pilot, and validate surveys, and program instruments on digital data collection platforms.
  • Support data quality checks for ongoing surveys such as high frequency checks and back checks using Stata and SurveyCTO
  • Data cleaning and processing according to GPRL best practices and protocols
  • Data analysis using advanced statistical and econometric methods
  • Design systems for data organization and analysis to ensure comparability in studies with multiple sources of data

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). 

Minimum Qualifications:

  • 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; OR appropriate combination of education and experience and 3 years' research study or other relevant experience required; OR
  • Successful completion of a full course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a master's or higher degree in economics or another quantitative major; OR appropriate combination of education and experience and 1 year research study or other relevant experience.
  • 2 years’ experience conducting data analysis using Stata and/or managing surveys and research projects.

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

  • Strong programming skills in Stata.
  • Strong quantitative skills (coursework in econometrics and statistics)
  • Excellent organizational and project management skills.
  • Fluency and excellent communication skills in English.
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently.
  • Demonstrated ability to work well in teams and collaborate effectively.
  • Flexibility to travel internationally.

Preferred Qualifications: (Education and experience)

  • Familiarity with randomized controlled trials and household surveys.
  • An enthusiasm for empirical research, and the ability and interest to learn new skills and take initiative as a project develops.
  • Experience living/working in a developing country.

Preferred Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities)

  • Proficiency in R, Python and ArcGIS.

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 "Senior Research Analyst - Global Poverty Research Lab, Northwestern University" and include 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.