The slate of four researchers sought answers to starkly different questions: Why do people tip when they don’t have to, and do they pay more when given a choice of percentage amounts? In the academic race to publish first, does research quality suffer? Are men who lose access to mental health services more likely to commit a crime? And why does volunteerism in national parks increase when federal park funding goes up?
The broad range of research was highlighted at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) last week during its annual Postdoctoral Fellows Conference. The event featured the work of two current and two incoming postdoctoral fellows and is a hallmark of SIEPR’s Young Scholars Program, which supports up-and-coming economists pursuing research on policy-relevant topics.
In what will become a familiar drill during their economic careers, the postdoctoral fellows presented their research and received feedback from colleagues. Members of the Stanford economics community and SIEPR’s cadre of scholars, as well as a growing group of program alumni who are now at leading universities and research organizations around the world, participated in the conference.
Launched 14 years ago, the Young Scholars Program also supports early-career economists — junior faculty from top universities who spend a year or two at SIEPR as visiting fellows. They, like the postdoctoral fellows, have the opportunity to spend time away from teaching to focus on and bolster their research.
“Our Young Scholars Program plays a critical role in fulfilling SIEPR’s goal of catalyzing research while also doing our part to advance the next generation of economic policy scholars,” says Gopi Shah Goda, who is SIEPR’s deputy director and leads the program. “In their interactions with the Stanford community, Young Scholars forge lasting connections.”
Heidi Williams, a SIEPR senior fellow, told conference participants that her two stints as a junior visiting professor at SIEPR before joining Stanford faculty in 2019 had a big impact on her research and professional development. She singled out SIEPR’s focus on promoting interdisciplinary interactions with scholars from across the university.
“It was very energizing to get to spend time learning from a group of young people that are doing really exciting work outside of your field,” said Williams, the Charles R. Schwab Professor of Economics.
This year, COVID-19 altered the program slightly. Because of pandemic restrictions, the Visiting Fellows program was put on hiatus for one year, but is planning to welcome a new cohort of junior faculty in coming months. And while postdoctoral fellows worked remotely, they had many opportunities to meet and collaborate with SIEPR faculty and other university researchers. The postdoc conference, which took place virtually, was just one example of how the researchers were able to capitalize on their experience at SIEPR.
The postdoctoral fellows who presented are:
The incoming postdoctoral fellows for the 2021-22 academic year who presented are:
Looking ahead, SIEPR will welcome four visiting fellows in 2021-22. They are: