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Monday, April 23, 2007

Congrats to Susan Athey

The first woman to win the prestigious John Bates Clark award was Susan Athey, currently at Harvard and previously at Stanford.

The John Bates Clark Medal, which is awarded every two years to a promising economist under the age of 40, has been given, for the first time, to a woman: Susan C. Athey, a professor of economics at Harvard University. The American Economic Association announced the award on Friday.

More from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Here's an interesting paper of hers investigating the fate of graduate students in economics. Grades in the core courses were important predictors of whether the student would land a job in a top 20 department.

The John Bates Clark award is awarded to promising economists under the age of 40. Some suggest the JBC is a precursor to an eventual Nobel prize. This might be true, but not all the time. One reason I claim Steven Levitt won his and immediately wrote Freakonomics is because he knows his work probably won't merit a Nobel although he could still cash in on his new-found fame. I wonder what Prof. Athey will do?

There is one more JBC award between now and when I turn 40. I have a strong suspicion you won't see my name affiliated with the award. However, there are only one or two JBC's a generation of economists (that is graduate school cohort) and therefore, I am not that disappointed.

Again, congrats to Dr. Athey.

Previous JBC winners

As of last Saturday, I have 19 years before I am no longer eligible for a JBC award.

I read the paper by Athey, Katz, Krueger, Levitt, and Poterba. I think results would have been much different if lower ranked universities were evaluated using the same methods. I could be wrong, but the authors seemed to ignore the reverse-causality that exists between job placement and the rank of a student’s PhD-granting school. If one did nothing more than change the words "The University of Texas at Arlington" to "Harvard University" on a UTA graduate’s resume, the UTA graduate would see a significant difference in his or her employment opportunities.
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