Chetty Awarded Clark Medal

Harvard economics professor Raj Chetty ’00 won the John Bates Clark Medal Friday. Awarded by the American Economic Association, the award recognizes the contribution of an American economist under 40 to the field of economics. Chetty, who at 33 is one of the award’s youngest recipients, joins the ranks of famous economists like Lawrence H. Summers, Milton Friedman, Paul R. Krugman, and several Nobel Prize winners who have previously won the award.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized in that way for my work,” said Chetty, whose research has focused on tax policy and the impact of education on equality of opportunity.

According to Claudia Goldin, an economics professor and president of the AEA, a committee of seven people reviews the list of economists who are eligible for the prize and then presents a list of candidates to the board of the AEA. Board members then take a vote to determine the recipient.

“Raj won unanimously,” she said. “It was an extremely brilliant decision on the part of the committee.”

Faculty in the Harvard economics department said they were pleased about Chetty’s award.


Economics professor Martin S. Feldstein ’61, who also won the award in 1977 and was Chetty’s advisor when he was an undergraduate at Harvard, wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson that he was delighted by the news.

“[Raj] is a great economist and a lovely human being,” he wrote.

According to assistant Harvard Kennedy School professor John N. Friedman ’02, who has co-authored several of Chetty’s papers, the award will bring attention to their field of research.

“The award will give prominence to these papers and issues we’ve been working on,” Friedman said.

Chetty and Friedman’s latest paper about the Earned Income Tax Credit will be published in the summer.

Chetty has pioneered the use of what he calls “administrative data”—data collected by governments, like tax returns—in economic research. This data, according to Chetty’s published work, allows researchers to precisely observe individual behavior. In one study, Chetty was able to link school records of fourth through eighth graders to their earnings as young adults, finding a significant effect of teacher quality on adult earnings. President Obama mentioned this finding in his 2012 State of the Union Address.

Chetty added that he hopes the award will reinforce the leading role of Harvard’s economics department.

“We are very happy for the department and for the type of work we’re all doing, which is policy-relevant database work,” he said. “We’re excited that it’s been recognized this way by the profession and by the broader public.”

—Staff Francesca Annicchiarico can be reached Follow her on Twitter @FRAnnicchiarico.

This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:

CORRECTION: April 17, 2013

An earlier version of this article misquoted economics professor Raj Chetty ’00 as as saying that he and his colleagues do “policy relevant to database work.” In fact, Cetty said that his department produces “policy-relevant database work.”

CORRECTION: April 22, 2013

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that a study by economics professor Raj Chetty ’00 mentioned in a State of the Union address analyzed the school records of kindergarteners. In fact, the study examined the school records of fourth through eighth graders.