The Growth Lab is Seeking Applicants for Fall Semester Research Assistants

The Growth Lab is growing! As the fall semester begins at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), the program is launching and expanding several efforts across its applied research project portfolio, academic research focus areas, and development and application of its digital tools. The program is looking for current students from across Harvard to join through a new part-time research assistant program. Effort is expected to be 5-10 hours a week, depending on the opportunity and individual circumstances. Many of these RA roles may continue beyond the fall semester through January and spring semester 2023. These roles span across a variety of topic areas, types of work, and required qualifications. What they have in common is that each is a new frontier of Growth Lab work in the world, and each offers an opportunity for outsides-the-class learning.

We encourage any students who are interested in applying what they are learning in class to pressing growth and development challenges to review this listing of fall semester RA opportunities and consider applying. The deadline for applications is Friday, September 30th.

Here is an overview of the opportunities. Please see the call for applications for more detail on each and instructions for how to apply.

Data-Driven Visual Stories: Growth Lab interactive data tools provide a wealth of information to understand emerging global and local economic challenges. We are looking for several students to help teams of researchers and digital developers to construct data-driven stories (see example) that translate data and visualizations into timely insights for decision-makers. Students will likely focus on the Growth Lab's new Metroverse as well as its more widely known Atlas of Economic Complexity.

Green Growth: As the world decarbonizes, new technologies will create profound economic opportunities for many economies, including those of developing countries. Actions now and in the coming years by policymakers and the private sector will go a long way to determining to what extent their societies benefit from decarbonization-induced economic transformation. We are seeking candidates to help us create a knowledge graph that bridges scattered knowledge of low-carbon green transitions and enable a holistic view of opportunities and risks for green growth via the integration with economic complexity methods and tools. We also welcome broader expressions of interest in line with green growth (see background here and here.

Growth Miracles: Long-term economic growth that allows previously low-income economies to enjoy greater and greater levels of economic opportunity is the hope for all poor economies today. Economic growth miracles are rare, but they do happen. We are looking for RA support to help us better understand the relationship between economic complexity and growth miracles around the world.

"Genotypic Approach" to the Product Space: The Product Space is a mapping of the relatedness of products by the underlying capabilities required to produce them competitively. Because of the nature of global data, the Growth Lab has been limited to understanding these capabilities through a "phenotypic approach" where we can observe what all economies produce but not capabilities themselves. A “genotypic approach” on the other hand starts from data on input requirements by industries and uses this data to analyze industry-similarities and patterns of entry into new industries by countries, among others. We are looking for RA support for our academic team in compiling and analyzing data that is informative for the genotypic approach.

Book on Economic Complexity: Professor Ricardo Hausmann has been recording his thoughts on complexity on Zoom sessions around a book outline related to economic complexity. We are seeking an RA literate on economic complexity thinking to transcribe and create a first draft of the chapters. This is a unique opportunity to contribute to the codification of years of academic and applied learning in an exciting new field.

>Smallholder and Collective Land Agriculture: While climate change and other new stresses put increasing pressure on smallholder agriculture, experiences from across several Growth Lab projects have underscored the power of organizational models that bring knowhow and inputs together in ways that allow smallholder farmers to participate in competitive value chains — allowing them to reach new markets, increase incomes and gain resilience. Organizational challenges to these models emerge in situations of collective land ownership, but many forms of partnerships have overcome these models, including in South Africa. We are seeking a team of students to help us develop tools for understanding and developing more of these opportunities.

The Role of Remoteness: The Growth Lab is developing a flagship report on the development effects of — and policy responses to — remoteness. We are hoping to incorporate students to help us develop a comprehensive review on the broad academic and policy literature on the matter at the national, regional, and urban levels. We also want to incorporate students to help us with complementary data analyses regarding our work on trade and telework. Students may focus on literature review or data analysis, or both depending on experience and interest.

Building Globally Comparable, Locally Precise Data: The Growth Lab is developing a set of "glocal" datasets (globally comparable, locally precise) on a number of economic, ecological, demographic, and political markers. We are looking for students to help us incorporate different sources to create additional variables to add to the final dataset. Also, we want to incorporate students to help us scrape data from online sources and process them to generate additional "glocal" fields to add to the final dataset.

Crime Data Visualization: Researchers in the Growth Lab are currently engaged in research regarding the economic and enforcement determinants of violence. To better enable the assessment of a set of unique datasets on the matter, we want to incorporate students to help us develop a data visualization dashboard of specific characteristics, under the supervision of both our research and our visualization teams.

Venezuelan Refugee Crisis: The Venezuelan refugee crisis is of a similar magnitude to the Syrian and Ukrainian crises. To better assess its economic and political effects on host communities, we want to measure and predict migration patterns during the Venezuelan Refugee Crisis. Importantly, we want to assess whether patterns of ecological similarity between home and host communities help predict bilateral moves.

Political Favoritism: In studying how autocrats distribute rents in pursuit of regime stability, we want to gather, develop, and analyze a diverse number of datasets with the help of our students. These involve, but are not limited to, the distribution of power generation equipment, national budget transfers and government appointments during the Venezuelan economic crisis of 2014-2019. The work also implies supporting the writing and literature reviews for several research projects in the same setting.

See also: Fellows