‘What I like really about
academics is that
nobody cares about
what your age is. It’s
more about who has the
Raj Chetty tells
Arthur J Pais.
‘I am fascinated by the power
What is your home life like?
economics has to transform lives’
If you enjoy playing chess and lis- tening to A R Rahman, you can have a good time at Raj and
Sundari Chetty’s home in Cambridge,
If you enjoy fine food and improvised dishes like the Naan Pizza that
the couple whips up for his six
nephews and nieces, you will have an
even more interesting time.
The Harvard economist recently
made time for an interview with India
Abroad, ranging from his taste in
movies to his politically “incorrect”
A few years ago I was interviewing
another MacArthur ‘Genius’ Dr Atul
Gawande who said one of his guilty
pleasures was mystery books, particularly by novelists like Eric Ambler.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I like watching ‘action movies’ similar to Law and Order and any sort of
sports, rather than books.
Have you seen Iron Man 3 What are
some of your favorite action films?
I have not yet seen the newest Iron
Man. But I saw Zero Dark Thirty a few
months ago, and I liked it.
Among the favorites is a movie I saw
a long time ago, The Fugitive.
I was in high school at that time. I
found it a very exciting and entertaining movie. It was about a doctor who
has been falsely accused of killing his
At that time I was thinking about
becoming a doctor, so maybe I related
to it in some way.
I like watching these detective type
shows like Law and Order, shows that
involve some logic and are entertaining.
There’s another show called Numb3rs that is about a
mathematical detective. These are what I find interesting.
You were interested in medicine. Your mother is a physician and a researcher. And so are your sisters.
What made you change your mind?
What changed my mind was —
1. The experience of working in a lab in high school for 2
‘Taking a phenomenal introductory economics class with a professor at Harvard in my freshman year,’ is one of the
things that influenced Raj Chetty’s career choice.
PHO TOGRAPHS COURTES Y: RAJ CHET T Y
years, which I liked, but made me realize I’d prefer doing
something more mathematical/abstract that did not
involve using my hands to do lab work.
2. Taking a phenomenal introductory economics class
with a professor at Harvard in my freshman year, and,
3. Having a longstanding interest in social problems,
partly because my father is an economist who has worked
on major social issues in India.
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