Three CEHD Scholars Move On to Pursue Doctorates at Top-Tier Institutions

Three of the Center’s predoctoral scholars, Ganesh Karapakula, Sidharth Moktan, and Tanya Rajan, have completed their research terms at the Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD). After three years of service, they are moving on to doctoral programs at first-rate institutions in the United States and abroad.

Ganesh Karapakula will continue his academic career at Yale, where he will seek a Ph.D. in economics. Ganesh’s work at CEHD has been primarily focused on the analysis of the outcomes of the Perry Preschool Project participants after age fifty and their children. In a pair of papers, which Ganesh co-authored with CEHD’s Director Professor James Heckman, a half century of data is examined in order to evaluate life-cycle outcomes—such as crime, health, earnings, and education—of the original Perry participants, as well as their children. Even when using conservative measures of statistical significance, the multigenerational impacts of the Perry program are considerable. These studies establish a causal link between intensive high-quality targeted preschool programs and life course benefits for the participants, their siblings, and their children. These findings will likely prove to be groundbreaking and will impact future research and policy. The two papers are available through the National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series.

Sidharth Moktan will attend the London School of Economics, where he will continue his academic studies to obtain his Ph.D in economics. He plans to explore topics in political economy, developmental economics, and organizational economics, with particular interest in questions related to the selection, incentivization, and monitoring of agents in firms, bureaucracies, and politics. While at CEHD, he co-authored The Tyranny of the Top 5 and The Evaluation of the Reggio Approach to Early Education with CEHD’s Director James Heckman. Their research on the Tyranny is the first of its kind, documenting the relationship between the Top 5 economics journals, tenure, and editorial incest. By extensively surveying faculty members of Top 50 economics departments nationwide and T5 editorial boards, they highlight the need for change and propel future research into how policymakers can incentivize innovation in research. The resulting paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Literature. Working paper versions are currently hosted by The Institute for New Economic Thinking and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Tanya Rajan will be welcomed back to the University of Chicago community in her new role as a Ph.D. candidate in economics this coming fall. While completing her studies, she hopes to focus her research on topics lying at the intersection of labor, development, and health economics. Her work at CEHD has largely covered the rigorous analysis and measurement of socioemotional skills— measures not typically addressed in economics and public policy. She contributed across a wide range of projects during her time at CEHD and served as an essential figure in developing and steering key, cutting-edge, interdisciplinary partnerships. In particular, CEHD’s collaboration with Otus— an educational technology company that provides K-12 students, parents, teachers, and administrators with data-based learning and management tools— has been led by Tanya.