Raj Chetty
Nadarajan Chetty

(1979-08-04) August 4, 1979 (age 44)
Academic career
InstitutionStanford University
Harvard University
University of California, Berkeley
FieldPublic economics
Alma materHarvard University (AB, AM, PhD)
Martin Feldstein, Lawrence F. Katz[1]
AwardsMacArthur Fellowship (2012)
John Bates Clark Medal (2013)
Infosys Prize (2020)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Nadarajan "Raj" Chetty (born August 4, 1979) is an Indian-American economist and the William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics at Harvard University.[2] Some of Chetty's recent papers have studied equality of opportunity in the United States[3] and the long-term impact of teachers on students' performance.[4] Offered tenure at the age of 28, Chetty became one of the youngest tenured faculty in the history of Harvard's economics department. He is a recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal and a 2012 MacArthur Fellow.[5] Currently, he is also an advisory editor of the Journal of Public Economics.[6] In 2020, he was awarded the Infosys Prize in Economics, the highest monetary award recognizing achievements in science and research, in India.[7]

Education and early career

Raj Chetty was born in New Delhi, India and lived there until the age of nine.[8] His family immigrated to the United States in 1988.[8] Chetty graduated from University School of Milwaukee in 1997 and earned his AB from Harvard University in 2000. He continued at Harvard to earn his PhD in 2003, completing a dissertation under the direction of Martin Feldstein, Gary Chamberlain, and Lawrence F. Katz[9] with a thesis titled Consumption commitments, risk preferences, and optimal unemployment insurance.[1] As a sophomore in college, Chetty was told by his mentor Feldstein to pursue his own ideas after proposing a counterintuitive idea that higher interest rates sometimes lead to higher investment.[10]

In 2003, at the age of 24, Chetty became an assistant professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, becoming a tenured associate professor there at 28.[10] In 2009, Chetty returned to Harvard, where he was the Bloomberg Professor of Economics and the director of the Lab for Economic Applications and Policy.[9] In 2015, Chetty moved to Stanford, where he became a professor in the Economics Department.[2] In June 2018, Raj Chetty's frequent coauthor John Friedman announced that Chetty will be returning to Harvard.[11] In July of the same year, he became a Founding Director of Opportunity Insights with John Friedman and Nathaniel Hendren.[12]


In 2011 with John Friedman and Jonah Rockoff, Chetty found that test-score based value-added measures are not substantially biased by unobserved student characteristics and that the students of high value-added teachers have markedly better outcomes later in life.[4] Drawing on these findings, Chetty testified in the landmark case Vergara v. California in support of the plaintiffs’ key points: that teacher quality has a direct impact on students’ achievements and that the current dismissal and seniority statutes have disparate impact on minority and low-income students.[13]

Chetty is also known for research showing that economic mobility varies enormously within the United States[8][14] and for work on the optimal level of unemployment benefits.

Chetty’s contribution to economic mobility started with his 2014 paper, " Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States.” In this paper, Chetty discussed the effects of geography on economic mobility. He used information from deidentified federal income tax records, which gave him records from 1996 to 2012. The research's main focus was on intergenerational mobility in the United States as a whole. Chetty used the parent’s income between the years of 1996-2000 when the participants were between the ages of 15-20. Chetty concluded that 5 significant variables strongly correlated with intergenerational mobility. Those variables are residential segregation, income inequality, school quality, social capital, and family structure. This concluded that intergenerational mobility is considered mainly a local problem. Meaning that place-based policies are better fitting for each city. This allows for each city to be able to make a plan and policy that will best help the people in that city that is affected by the constrictions of intergenerational mobility.


In 2008, The Economist and The New York Times listed Chetty as one of the top eight young economists in the world.[15] Chetty is among the most cited young economists in the world.[16] In 2010, he received the Young Labor Economist Award from the Institute for the Study of Labor for his paper "Moral Hazard Versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance" in the Journal of Political Economy.[17]

In 2012, he was one of 23 fellows to receive $500,000 over the following five years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as a recipient of one of the Foundation's Genius Grants.[5]

Chetty was the recipient of the 2013 John Bates Clark Medal, awarded by the American Economic Association to "that American economist under the age of forty who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge."[18]

Chetty was awarded the Padma Shri, an award for distinguished service in any field, by the Government of India in 2015.[19]

George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen described Chetty in 2017 as "the single most influential economist in the world today."[20]

Research by Chetty was covered by The New York Times,[21] The Atlantic,[22] Our World in Data,[23] and Vox.[24]

In 2018, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2019, he received an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.[25]

In December 2020, he received the Infosys Prize for Social Sciences – Economics "for his pioneering research on identifying barriers to economic opportunity and for developing solutions to help people escape from poverty towards better life outcomes."[7][26]



  1. ^ a b Chetty, Nadarajan (2003). Consumption commitments, risk preferences, and optimal unemployment insurance (PhD). Harvard University. OCLC 85212279. ProQuest 305332512.
  2. ^ a b Chetty, Raj. "RajChetty.com". Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  3. ^ "The Equality of Opportunity Project". www.equality-of-opportunity.org.
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2014-08-01.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b "2012 MacArthur Foundation 'Genius Grant' Winners". 1 October 2012. AP. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  6. ^ "Journal of Public Economics".
  7. ^ a b "Infosys Laureate - Social Sciences (2020) ~ Raj Chetty". Infosys Science Foundation.
  8. ^ a b c Cook, Gareth (17 July 2019). "The Economist Who Would Fix the American Dream". The Atlantic. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Raj Chetty — MacArthur Foundation". www.macfound.org.
  10. ^ a b Chesler, Caren (October 2007), "The Experimenter", The American
  11. ^ "John N.Friedman on Twitter".
  12. ^ "Biographical Sketch: Raj Chetty" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Research Items Archive - Students Matter". Students Matter.
  14. ^ Leonhardt, David (22 July 2013). "In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  15. ^ "International bright young things", The Economist, December 30, 2008
  16. ^ "Young Economist Rankings - IDEAS/RePEc". ideas.repec.org.
  17. ^ "IZA - Institute of Labor Economics". www.iza.org.
  18. ^ Brenda Cronin, Economist Is Awarded Top Honor in the Field, Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2013
  19. ^ "Padma Awards 2015". pib.nic.in. Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  20. ^ Center, Mercatus (2017-05-24). "Raj Chetty on Teachers, Taxes, Mobility, and How to Answer Big Questions". Medium. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  21. ^ Badger, Emily; Bui, Quoctrung (2018-10-01). "Detailed Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for Life". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  22. ^ Pinsker, Joe (2019-06-26). "How Do Rich Neighborhoods Exist So Close to Poor Ones?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  23. ^ "Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. We are all losing out because of this". Our World in Data. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  24. ^ Matthews, Dylan (2018-03-21). "The massive new study on race and economic mobility in America, explained". Vox. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  25. ^ "Carnegie Corporation names fellowship winners". Harvard Gazette. 2019-04-23. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  26. ^ "Infosys Prize 2020 winners felicitated in six categories". The Hindu.