The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was started in June 2003 by Professors Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Sendhil Mullainathan at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. J-PAL serves as a focal point for development and poverty research based on randomized trials. The objective is to improve the effectiveness of poverty programs by providing policy makers with clear scientific results that help shape successful policies to combat poverty. J-PAL works with NGOs, international organizations, and others to evaluate programs and disseminate the results of high quality research. We work on issues as diverse as boosting girls' attendance at school, improving the output of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, racial bias in employment in the US, and the role of women political leaders in India.
J-PAL was renamed in honor of Abdul Latif Jameel in October 2005.
J-PAL North America was launched at MIT in 2013 by Scientific Directors Amy Finkelstein (MIT) and Lawrence Katz (Harvard) to improve social programs in the region by ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence. Academic affiliates collaborate with governments at the city, state, and national levels as well as a variety of social organizations to conduct randomized evaluations. J-PAL North America disseminates results from these studies and works to build organizational research capacities. The network of affiliates has conducted randomized experiments to study a variety of topics such as the extension of health insurance to the uninsured, programs for helping young at-risk men avoid crime, strategies for increasing college persistence, and the long-term effects of growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods.
Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research
The MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR) is sponsored by the Economics Department, the Sloan School, and the MIT Energy Initiative. The Director of CEEPR is Williams Barton Rogers Professor of Energy Economics Christopher R. Knittel at the Sloan School, whose energy economics course is joint between the Economics Department and the Sloan School. The Center investigates economic, regulatory, and technological issues related to energy and the environment and is supported by corporations, trade associations, environmental organizations, and grants from foundations and government agencies. CEEPR holds bi-annual meetings and conferences to discuss policy issues with economists and other professionals from business, government, and academia.
The School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII), directed by MIT Professors Joshua Angrist, David Autor, and Parag Pathak, is a research program based in the Department of Economics. Primarily a domestic initiative, SEII aims to strengthen the empirical body of work available to policymakers and to educators.
The initiative focuses on the economics of education, poverty, and the connections between human capital and the American income distribution. SEII’s diverse projects explore topics ranging from the effectiveness of charter and pilot schools to the impact of rising Chinese import competition on America’s regional labor markets. The center recently launched an expansive project partnering with the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF). This project investigates the impact of STBF's considerable post-secondary aid program on educational attainment of academically motivated, low-income students. In other ongoing work, SEII researchers are studying alternative school models in New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Texas.
The World Economy Laboratory
The purpose of the World Economy Laboratory (WEL), founded by the Economics Department in1992anddirected by Ricardo Caballero and Sloan faculty member Roberto Rigobon, is to strengthen the links between the department andpolicy makers, central banks, and business economists.
The WEL is organized around the Central Banks—MIT research Network, which was started in 2006 and aims to develop relationships between MIT and central banks. It hosts occasional meetings in Cambridge and visits by central bank researchers to the MIT Economics Department. The working group environment of the meetings is aimed at discussing policy issues at a relatively technical level. The meetings are attended by the heads of research of many central banks, as well as faculty and students working on international finance and macroeconomics policy issues.
WEL is financed by membership contributions. The funds are used to organize the meetings and to support policy-oriented research by junior faculty and students.