Parag A. Pathak is the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics at MIT, founding co-director of the NBER Working Group on Market Design, and founder of MIT's School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII), a laboratory focused on education, human capital, and the income distribution. In 2005, based on work in his PhD thesis, Boston's school committee adopted a new mechanism for student placement, citing the desire to make it easier for participants to navigate and to level the playing field for the city's families. He has also helped to design the Chicago, Denver, Newark, New Orleans, New York, and Washington DC school choice systems.
His work on market design and education was recognized with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. In 2012, he was selected to give the Shapley Lecture at GAMES2012 as a distinguished game theorist under age 40. In 2013, he was appointed as Mayor Thomas Menino's chief technical advisor for Boston's student assignment plan. Under his direction, SEII provided a formal analysis of different alternatives, which eventually led to the most significant change in Boston's school choice system since the end of court-ordered busing. The IMF listed him as one of 25 top economists under age 45 in 2014. He was awarded the 2016 Social Choice and Welfare as the top young scholar in social choice and welfare economics together with Fuhito Kojima and elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society. In addition to generating academic publications that study, develop, and test different student assignment systems, Pathak's research work has directly affected the lives of over one million public school students. In 2018, the American Economics Association awarded him the John Bates Clark Medal as the best American economist under age 40.
Pathak also studies K-12 education and urban economics. He has authored leading studies on charter schools, high school reform, selective education, vouchers, and school choice. In urban economics, he has measured the effects of foreclosures on house prices and how the housing market reacted to the end of rent control in Cambridge MA.
Pathak's research has been supported by research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Boston Foundation, and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy. He has served as an Associate Editor at the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, and Econometrica.
Pathak is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice, a non-profit which provides assistance to districts on school assignment.