bear on these policy questions.
So some of my studies end up naturally favoring
the conclusion and favoring what Democrats
would like, like this finding that I just described,
that unemployment benefits are not as harmful to
the economy as you might think.
Other findings might support Republican viewpoints like taxing corporations in the form of high
dividend taxes can be quite detrimental.
Evaluating teachers more flexibly by using a
quantitative matrix and trying to keep the best
teachers and let the teachers who are not as effective go, using a merit-pay type of system seems
That’s more of a view point that a Republican
may support instead of a Democrat.
I think I have various studies, some of which
favor the Democratic view and some of which
might favor the Republican view.
My view is that I want to get this right.
You have been tirelessly stressing the importance of excellent teachers especially in kindergarten.
I would say that there is a lot of variation in
My guess is all teachers are trying their best to
help children, but you know it turns out that
some people are better teachers than others just
like some people are better at basketball than others or some people are better baseball players
So, all of us have different innate abilities.
It makes sense to try to keep people who are the
best at teaching in our elementary schools
because that has a huge impact on children in
America and in other countries.
Teaching happens to be a profession where not
much value is attached. So, whether you are doing
well or not, you pretty much get tenure.
‘I am fascinated by the power
economics has to transform lives’
; ; ; ;
Shortly after he won the MacArthur Genius
award, Raj Chetty gave an extensive interview to
Arthur J Pais.
The excerpts from that interview, below, highlight Dr Chetty’s school days in India and
America, and his fascination for economics.
What were your school days like?
I came to America with my parents and two
older sisters when I was about nine and went to a
school in Bethesda, Maryland. It was a little challenging
adjusting to a new environment.
I had studied at St Columbus in New Delhi, where the
habit of answering a teacher’s question by standing up had
been ingrained in me.
When I would get up to answer a question in the class in
Maryland, my class laughed at me. But I got over it and was
encouraged by the fact that I was able to do well academically.
To my surprise, the school in Bethesda was actually much
easier and less rigorous than the Catholic school I had
attended in New Delhi, which made the transition much
Moving to the US was one of the many experiences over
the years that taught to me to adapt to different environments quickly.
I think those experiences have had an impact on my
research, by making me think more abstractly and under-
stand that there are many different ways to look at
society and social problems.
Raj Chetty, second from left, at IIT-Bombay. He says he is fascinated by the power that
economics has to transform millions of people’s lives, contrasted with our relatively poor
knowledge of how the economy works.
COUR TESY: RAJ CHETT Y
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