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Undergraduate Research Assistant openings

The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) has many openings throughout the year for undergraduate research assistants. Undergraduate RAs are often responsible for helping faculty with data management and analysis.

Due to the type of funding, this program is available only to currently enrolled Stanford undergraduates. For questions about the program, contact Jessica Vo at jmvo@stanford.edu



Summer Opportunities

Project Title: Population Health Sciences Research

Faculty Leader: Mark Cullen (with Isabella Chu and Rita Lonhart)

Project Description: The Center for Population Health Sciences seeks a research assistant to support its research projects and initiatives aligned with the aims of its 14 working groups. The RA would have the opportunity to work closely with both the Research and Data Core on various projects to support the Center’s faculty led research initiatives.

Responsibilities: RA will work closely with Chu and Lonhart to support population science focused research for the Center.

Qualifications: Requires a basic knowledge of population health.

Details: The RA can work up to 10 weeks full time over summer (400 hours). Beginning and end dates are flexible and will be arranged by mutual agreement. At the end of the summer, students are required to submit a brief report of their work for SIEPR.

Contact: Please send resume and statement of interest to Isabella Chu (itaylor@stanford.edu) and Rita Lonhart (rlonhart@stanford.edu) and copy Jessica Vo (jmvo@stanford.edu).



Spring Opportunities

Project Title: Understanding the Economics of the Deinstitutionalization Revolution: the Efficiency and Welfare Effects of Providing Support to Americans with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Faculty Leader: Alison Morantz

Project Description: The project in which the RA primarily will be involved examines the effects of the “deinstitutionalization revolution” on individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) from an economic perspective. Given the enormous economic impacts – on individuals with IDD, on their families, on their caregivers, on potential employers, on the Medicaid program, and on the taxpayers who spend more than $50 billion per year on IDD-related services – one might expect the trends in the provision of support services to individuals with IDD to the have attracted a great deal of interest among policy-oriented economists. Surprisingly, however, very little applied economic literature exists on the subject. Therefore, numerous questions of interest to economic policymakers are ripe for empirical investigation, such as whether cross-state disparities in welfare outcomes, such as self-reported choice-making and participation in integrated employment, can be explained by state differences in leadership, per-capita funding (total, for mental health, etc.), characteristics of consumers (e.g., racial/ethnic, dual diagnoses), local economic conditions, or the way in which DDS services are delivered to consumers (i.e., directly, through “regional centers,” etc.). The insights derived from the project will bring to light reforms that may improve the efficiency or distributional impacts of state and federal programs governing the provision of support to those with IDD.

Responsibilities: The RA will play a critical role in and gain valuable experience with the conception and framing of a new research project. Day-to-day responsibilities will include:

  • conducting reviews of existing empirical research on this topic
  • investigating datasets in this field (particularly those that have been relied upon in previous literature)
  • communicating with key stakeholders in the field (including researchers, government employees, and advocacy groups).


    Depending on their experience and skills, the RA may also assist with database management or statistical modeling. This position should be of particular interest to those considering a career in legal, policy-making, or applied economic research fields.

    Qualifications: A strong interest in economic policy and painstaking attention to detail are required. Some prior exposure to econometrics or statistics, and some proficiency in Stata or R (or other programming languages) are preferred but not required.

    Details: The RA will work part-time (15 hours per week) at $16/hour over spring quarter. Beginning and end dates are flexible and will be arranged by mutual agreement. There may be an opportunity to continuing working on a full-time basis (40 hours per week) for up to ten weeks over the summer holiday.

    Contact: Please send a resume, cover letter summarizing your interest in the position, and unofficial transcript to morantzgroup@gmail.com. Please also cc Alison Morantz (amorantz@law.stanford.edu) and Jessica Vo (jmvo@stanford.edu).

    Project Title: Marriage, Labor Supply and the Social Safety Net

    Faculty Leader: Luigi Pistaferri

    Project Description: In this project we develop a dynamic model of marriage, labor supply, welfare participation, savings and divorce under limited commitment and use it to understand the impact of welfare reforms, particularly the time-limited eligibility, as in the TANF program. The goal is to use variation provided by the introduction of time limits in welfare benefits eligibility following the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 to provide reduced form evidence of the importance of these reforms on a number of outcomes relevant to our model (welfare participation, employment, family formation and dissolution).

    Responsibilities: The RA will work closely with faculty leader to construct a dataset that codes the rules governing welfare programs before and after the reform across US states.

    Qualifications: Experience with Stata (or Excel) strongly preferred.

    Details: We are looking for an RA to work on this project for 10-15 hours per week at $16/hour for spring quarter.

    Contact: Please send resume and statement of interest to Luigi Pistaferri (pista@stanford.edu) and copy Jessica Vo (jmvo@stanford.edu).

    Project Title: Agricultural Productivity and Input Misallocation – Evidence from 6 Sub-Saharan African Countries

    Faculty Leader: Marshall Burke

    Project Description: This development economics project seeks a better quantitative understanding the world most common type of firm: the family owned farm. In particular, we will use detailed household surveys from six African countries to study agricultural productivity dispersion and its persistence over time. Our goal is to inform researchers and policymakers why some rural firms are so much more productive than others, and inform how to reduce poverty among the rural poor.

    Responsibilities: RA’s will work closely with Burke and his graduate students to develop and analyze household datasets from six Sub-Saharan African countries. This will include writing code to merge and analyze complex datasets, and participation in weekly meetings to discuss results.

    Qualifications: Experience with quantitative analysis. Experience with Stata and/or R required and some econometrics coursework strongly preferred.

    Details: We are looking for 2 RAs to work on this project for 10-15 hours per week at $16/hour for spring quarter. This position has the potential to extend into summer.

    Contact: Please send resume and statement of interest to Marshall Burke (mburke@stanford.edu) and Casey Maue (cmaue@stanford.edu) and copy Jessica Vo (jmvo@stanford.edu).

    Project Title: The Effect of Communication in Bargaining

    Faculty Leader: Brad Larsen

    Project Description: This project studies the effects of communication on the outcome of price negotiations using an experiment on an online bargaining platform.

    Responsibilities: A research assistant is needed to write a web-crawler/screen-scraper to submit information to a website and collect the output from the website into a CSV file for later data analysis.

    Qualifications: Knowledge of web-crawling/screen-scraping packages is required. The research assistant may use any language he/she prefers (Pythong, PHP, Java, C++, etc.)

    Details: The research assistant will work approximately 10 hours per week during the Spring quarter, at a rate of $16 per hour.

    Contact: Please send your resume to Brad Larsen (bjlarsen@stanford.edu) and copy Jessica Vo (jmvo@stanford.edu).