‘We added these tags that said $7.99 plus
California sales tax equals whatever the price of
the item was,’ he said in an interview over three
years ago, adding that the owners limited the
experiment to hair care products and cosmetics.
They assumed the price tags would cause customers to buy less.
“They (the owners) were right,” Chetty had
said in an interview with India Abroad then.
“We were able to show that demand for these
products fell by 8 or 10 percent. It was as if cus-
tomers were ignoring the tax before we put
these tags on.”
One of the youngest
professors at Princeton,
dinaire, a musician of
Dr Manjul Bhargava
won the inaugural India
Abroad Face of the
Future Award 2008.
exploring brave new
worlds, she pushes the
frontiers of our knowl-
edge, constantly. It is
the enchanting promise
of future achievements
that India Abroad rec-
ognized last year by
Natarajan its Face of the
Future Award 2009.
You don’t have to be a Nobel Laureate to know
that good teachers have a huge and life-long
impact on students. But it becomes a formidable argument when economists like Raj Chetty
study the achievements of teachers and their
students, collect extensive data and create information that not only makes into the national
media, but also catches the attention of
President Obama who used it in a State of the
Chetty and his colleagues, including Harvard
Kennedy School associate professor of public
policy John Friedman, examined data from
Project STAR, a study of nearly 12,000
Tennessee kindergartners conducted in the mid-
Other analyses of Project STAR showed that
children in small classes, and those with the best
teachers, scored higher on standardized tests in
the primary grades.
But by the time those students reached junior
high, the advantage vanished, a phenomenon
known as ‘fade out.’
‘By the time they’re in seventh or eighth grade,
the kids in a better kindergarten class are not
doing any better on tests than the kids in not-so-
good classes,’ Chetty told the Harvard Gazette.
Conventional wisdom held that the boost from
a good kindergarten ebbed with time. ‘What’s
really surprising about our study,’ Chetty says, ‘is
that (the advantage) comes back in adulthood,’
When he and his colleagues looked at what the
students — now in their early 30s — recently
earned, they found that those who had the best
kindergarten teachers are better off.
‘We estimate that if you move from an average
teacher to an excellent teacher, each student
gains an average of $1,000 per year in earnings,’
Chetty, who recalls he had excellent teachers at
the St Columbus school in New Delhi, has said.
‘If you add that up over a student’s working life,
and adjust for inflation and interest rates, you
get a total lifetime gain of around $16,000 per
‘In a classroom with an average of 20 students,
an excellent teacher means a total gain in earn-
ings of $320,000 for the entire class. And stu-
Raj and Sundari Chetty with Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman, India’s Planning Commission. Raj caught the
eye of not just economists, but also the media and politicians soon after he began
teaching at UC, Berkeley.
COURTES Y: RAJ CHET T Y
A pioneering innovator
in social networking, he
built Foursquare, a
community of 20 million people and counting across the world. We
Selvadurai with the
India Abroad Face of
the Future Award 2010.
dents from small classes experienced other
important advantages — they were more likely
to attend college, to own a home, and to save for
For being a technologi-
cal genius; for develop-
ing innovative sensor
systems to improve the
quality of daily life; and
for being a brilliant,
young visionary, we
Fellow Dr Shwetak Patel
with the India Abroad
Face of the Future
New Delhi-born Chetty, the third child and
the only son of economist and Boston University
professor Dr V K Chetty and Tufts medical
researcher Dr Anne (Anbu) Chetty, is a gangly
but towering personality.
He looks much younger than his age and is
often mistaken by grad students at Harvard as
one of their classmates till he takes the podium,
dressed elegantly but casually.
He graduated from the University School of
Milwaukee in 1997 after having come to
America at age nine and started on a healthier
life, putting behind his severely asthmatic childhood.
He received his BA from Harvard in 2000 and
PhD from Harvard in 2003 at the age of 23. He
was an assistant professor at UC-Berkeley and
returned to Harvard in 2009 as one of the
youngest tenured professors in Harvard’s 350-
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