Seema Jayachandran

Development economist/Professor @ Princeton University
72 karmaJoined Working (15+ years)


Several Indian states have policies that offer payments to families that have daughters, sometimes restricting it to below-poverty-line families. Sometimes the ongoing payments are conditional on being in school, not getting married early, etc. It looks like the Haryana policy no longer requires sterilization, but it used to. Here's an excerpt from a paper on the previous version, Devi Rupak: 

"In light of these trends, Devirupak seeks to promote a one-child norm and to decrease the sex ratio at birth. It provides monthly benefits, for a period of 20 years, to couples who become sterilized after having one child (of either sex), or two girls (and no boy). The incentive offered to parents of one girl is larger than the amount that parents of one boy or two girls receive. Couples who remain childless, have a boy and a girl, or have more than two children receive nothing." 

(That policy had dual goals of reducing fertility and improving the skewed sex ratio and ended up making the sex ratio more male-skewed. That part was just bad design and is fixable. But even if fixed, I don't love this approach to the problem.)

I understand what you're after, but I haven't seen a tidy way of converting improvements in gender equality to an all-up measure of well-being or income. That's partly for the reasons that David T states that gender equality is multi-faceted, plus if downstream benefits materialize gradually, they are hard to empirically isolate and quantify. In addition, promoting equality isn't just about the instrumental benefits like better use of human talent --> higher GDP, but also equality of opportunity being valuable per se, even if not exercised. I think if you tried to use standard methods to put a dollar value on rights, e.g., elicited women's WTP for equal rights, you wouldn't get a very informative answer. If someone asked me how much I value my right to free speech or freedom of religion, I would have nothing to anchor my answer and suspect it would be mostly noise. In addition, preferences adapt to circumstances. In some of my other work in India (see last paragraph of section 4.3), many women with extremely limited financial say in their household said they didn't want any more say than they had, and that men should control those decisions. I'm skeptical of taking that response at face value and concluding that increasing women's very low agency would not be welfare-improving for them.

Princeton University’s Research Program in Development Economics is looking for a Research and Policy Manager to provide high-level research support to Professor Pascaline Dupas and Prof. Seema Jayachandran, plus their colleagues. The role is similar to being a “chief of staff.” 

We are looking for an exceptionally strong analytical thinker who has good writing and people skills and is dependable and competent, i.e., gets things done regardless of the task.   

Salary: $85,000-100,000, depending on seniority 

Location: Princeton, NJ, with some travel (the university has a four-day-a-week in person policy). We can sponsor work visas.

Apply here: Apply here. Applications currently being reviewed on a rolling basis. (Note that the job ad says it is a one-year term but it is a permanent position, with renewal after a year. We prefer someone who expects to stay in the job at least 3 years but would consider someone with a 2-year horizon.)

Suggested skills and/or requirements: You'll be writing policy briefs and grant applications, representing us in meetings with implementing partners or donors, supervising the work of field-based research students, and a host of other things.  Useful skills include: 

- Strong understanding of economics, consistent with completing a master's degree or acing an undergraduate degree). This includes both the econometrics/statistics of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and economic concepts such as general equilibrium effects and principal-agent problems.

- Writing skills

- Oral communication skills

- Project management skills (even if not experience)

Nice-to-haves is fieldwork experience and experience working on randomized controlled trials. Also, while this is not a data analyst role, skills to conduct basic data analysis and supervise/give feedback on our data analysts' work would be valuable.

About RPDE at Princeton: RPDE is the center housing the development economists at Princeton University. We conduct microeconomic research related to poverty and well-being in low- and middle-income countries. Many of our research studies are RCTs on topics including health, climate, gender, education, crime, and political economy. We are 4 full-time faculty, 1-2 postdocs per year, 1-2 sabbatical visitors per year, and PhD students.