January 2023 North America Newsletter

Headshot of Matthew Notowidigo in front of a bookcase

Good afternoon,

Today, we write with the news that Lawrence Katz is stepping down as co-scientific director of J-PAL North America after nearly ten years of leadership, having worked to launch the office in 2013. His wisdom has been invaluable in shaping the organization. We anticipate many future collaborations with Larry to advance rigorous research across key policy areas, such as workforce development, housing and homelessness, and education. 

As we celebrate Larry and the past ten years of J-PAL North America, we are honored to provide key scientific direction to the next phase of the organization and to guide new projects and priorities, such as building career pathways for economic students from diverse backgrounds, expanding mentorship opportunities to junior researchers, scaling up programs found to be effective, and bolstering a research portfolio on important understudied topics such as racial equity. 

We also want to take this time to thank you, our partners and supporters, for your continued commitment to the mission of improving lives through evidence. We look forward to future collaborations. 

Matt Notowidigdo and Amy Finkelstein
Co-Scientific Directors, J-PAL North America

Meet Matthew Notowidigdo, new Co-Scientific Director of J-PAL North America

As Matthew Notowidigdo steps into his new role as co-scientific director, learn more about his background and previous work with J-PAL North America in a new Q&A on the J-PAL blog. Notowidigdo and Amy Finkelstein also discuss their priorities and what they hope to accomplish as co-scientific directors. 

Larry Katz on a decade of evidence-based policy work

In a new post on the J-PAL blog, Larry Katz reflects on the founding of J-PAL North America and the growth the organization has seen over the past decade. He discusses how the landscape of evidence-based policy-making has flourished since this work started and looks toward the future of J-PAL North America with excitement. 

Partner blog highlights randomized evaluations in housing research

Bridget Mercier (Policy and Training Manager, J-PAL NA) and Katherine Fallon (Senior Policy Program Manager, Housing Works), discuss the value of randomized evaluations for policymakers, particularly those interested in the impact of housing and homelessness prevention programs. Read on for stories from previous evaluations of housing policy and advice on applying findings to local policymaking. 

Featured Evaluation Summary:

Dependence Duration and Labor Market Conditions

Researchers Matt Notowidigdo (University of Chicago), Kory Kroft (University of Toronto), and Fabian Lange (McGill University) assessed whether a longer period of unemployment negatively affected employment prospects by sending fictitious resumes to real job postings that randomly varied the length of an applicant’s unemployment spell. The results found that at eight months of unemployment, the likelihood of a callback for an interview was 45 percent lower than at one month of unemployment.

Featured Research Resource:

Six Rules of Thumb for Understanding Statistical Power 

Adequate statistical power and a sufficiently large sample are essential to ensuring credible results from a randomized evaluation. What should policymakers and practitioners keep in mind to ensure that an evaluation is high powered? Read about the six rules of thumb for determining sample size and statistical power on the J-PAL blog. 

Media Mentions: 

Research collaboration to examine parent-child learning interactions’ impact on child skill and curiosity 
MIT News