Doctor of Humane Letters

Raj Chetty

May 29, 2022

Nadarajan “Raj” Chetty is the William A. Ackman Professor of Economics at Harvard University and the director of Opportunity Insights, a team of researchers and policy analysts who employ a data­driven approach to answering important policy questions regarding economic opportunity. In addition to exploring how we can give children from all backgrounds better chances at success, the team has recently been tracking the economic impacts of COVID-­19 on individuals, businesses and communities across the United States in real time.

Chetty’s own research combines empirical evidence and economic theory to help design more effective government policies. His work on topics ranging from tax policy and unemployment insurance to education and affordable housing has been widely cited in academia, media outlets and Congressional testimony.

Pedagogically, Chetty is committed to equipping his students with the tools needed to inject science into areas of contentious debate regarding the appropriate role of government in society. His empirical approach and emphasis on the importance of using data to understand the true contours of real­world economic and racial inequality are inspiring a new generation of socially engaged economists. His practice of making the data sets he uses publicly available encourages others to do their own analyses regarding factors that hinder or improve economic opportunity.

Chetty received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 2003 and is one of the youngest tenured professors in the institution’s history. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, he was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Stanford University. Chetty has received numerous awards for his research, including a MacArthur “Genius Grant” and the John Bates Clark Medal, given to the economist under 40 whose work is judged to have made the most significant contribution to the field. In 2021, he was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth­highest civilian award of the Republic of India.

Listen to Raj Chetty’s talk, “Improving Equality of Opportunity in America: New Insights from Big Data.”