Senior Research Associate - J-PAL LAC

  • Brazil
Start Date (Earliest):
Start Date (Latest):

About J-PAL

J-PAL LAC is a non-profit research center that aims to reduce global poverty by generating rigorous scientific evidence on which social programs and policies can make a real difference in people's lives. Formed by a network of more than 750 academics worldwide, J-PAL measures the impact of programs with randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and uses these results to influence the design of public policies. The J-PAL network has conducted over 1,700 evaluations in over 90 countries, organized in 12 sectors. In Latin America, we currently count on 174 studies. As of 2023, J-PAL LAC is supporting 25 evaluations in 6 countries.

J-PAL organizes its work into three main areas:

Research: We partner with donors to create initiatives that fund research. We also implement RCT from data collection to data analysis.

Public policy: we summarize the results of the investigation, create alliances, and provide technical assistance to governments.

Training: We lead the executive training and develop a rigorous online education to build regional knowledge.

The local grounding of J-PAL is essential for its success. The seven regional J-PAL offices are located at leading universities on five continents. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, J-PAL LAC is headquartered at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC Chile). J-PAL LAC also has a Memoranda of Understanding with Insper for work in Brazil, the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala for work in Central America, and ITAM for work in Mexico.

In 2019, J-PAL founders Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee won the Nobel Prize in Economics "for their experimental approach to alleviating poverty."


J-PAL LAC is based at UC Chile in Santiago, where most of our staff is located. We also have a team in São Paulo, based at Insper, and project staff in several LAC countries. Our team comprises about 15 permanent staff members and 20 staff hired for specific projects, typically on shorter-term contracts. We are currently running 25 projects in 6 LAC countries. 

We strive for a collegiate, horizontal, and amicable culture where peers can learn from each other and are not afraid to innovate. The office is led by Executive Director Paula Pedro, originally from Brazil, and Deputy Executive Director Claudia Macías, originally from Mexico. Paula leads the office’s overall strategy and fundraising and has a more external-facing role. Claudia oversees our operations and develops strategic partnerships, especially with Governments. 

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion:

Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to address poverty's complex causes and consequences. To advance our mission, J-PAL LAC must draw on diverse experiences from our staff and affiliated researchers to ask better questions and identify better solutions. We are working to increase the limited representation of individuals from underrepresented economic backgrounds. We are committed to self-reflection, learning, and dialogue to nurture understanding across differences. Together, we will build an equitable, inclusive culture where everyone is respected, empowered, and heard.

About the team, project, or initiative you would be working with:

The investigator team is led by Emily Breza and Janis Skrastins. Emily is the Frederick E. Abbe Professor of Economics at Harvard University. She is also the chair of J-PAL’s finance sector. Janis Skrastins is an Associate Professor of Finance at Washington University St. Louis. The investigators are also working closely with researchers at the Central Bank of Brazil. 

Summary of the Role:

The Senior Research Associate will help the PI team understand how small businesses (MEIs and Simples) decide to adopt PIX and the impact of PIX on access to credit, the decision to formalize, the business’s customer base, and profits. The first phase of the project involves conducting qualitative interviews with various entrepreneurs. The second phase includes supervising a systematic survey. The PI team has access to data on PIX usage and credit for entrepreneurs through the central bank, but more qualitative work is needed to put the patterns in the data into context. The findings of the firm surveys will be used to design an RCT, and there is an opportunity for the Senior Research Associate to stay involved throughout the RCT if it’s a good fit.  

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

Conduct informal discussions and surveys with small businesses, lenders, customers and others in the small business ecosystem.


Education: A bachelor's or master's degree in economics, political science, public policy, or a related field. Interest in economics, and finance. Some experience working with or studying small businesses in Brazil would be a plus. 

Languages: This opportunity is based in Brazil, so full proficiency in Portuguese is a must. Advanced English is needed as you also interact frequently with the PIs.

Experience: one year of professional experience. 


  • Good communication skills
  • Self-directed, ability to work independently
  • Ability to interpret patterns in the data through economic principles
  • Intermediate to advanced knowledge of RCTs

Work permissions:

This position is open to citizens or foreigners with visas and/or valid work permits in Brazil at the time of applying for this vacancy.


Flexible (combination of on-site and remote work). The Senior Research Associate will take a few domestic trips in Brazil to ensure that insights from large cities apply to other parts of the country. These trips can be planned flexibly.

How to Apply

What to expect from this application process?

As our team is mainly made up of people from outside Brazil, questions in English will be asked during the interview. 

If you are interested, please follow these steps:

Please fill out the following application form

You will be asked to answer relevant questions and upload a CV and a short motivation letter (both in one single PDF). Please send your materials in English.

What is expected from your cover letter:

Write a one-page cover letter, clearly stating your qualifications for the various responsibilities and the reasons for your interest in J-PAL. Please share aspects of your life that might be challenging to spot on your CV but might make you a good candidate!

What is expected from your CV:

Ideally, in 1-2 pages, in English.

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

Steps expected for shortlisted and final candidates:

  • Screening interview - culture fit and alignment of mission: no
  • Test: yes
  • Round of interviews: yes
  • Final Interview: yes
  • Feedback could be provided only to finalist candidates.

We want to get to know you as a professional and human being. We also want you to succeed. You will receive all the necessary materials and information at each step. We might also ask for additional information or additional interviews. If so, you will be informed as soon as possible to respect your time. 

The process exists because we believe that, in an unequal region like ours, only some people have the same chances, and, often, more than CVs are needed to demonstrate talent and motivation. In addition, it is an opportunity for you to understand our work well. These two ingredients are the secret to a successful partnership.

The team is also happy to accommodate your needs to ensure you feel at ease during the process. Just ask us!