JOE Listings (Job Openings for Economists)

February 1, 2019 - July 31, 2019


This listing is inactive.
Senior Fellow

JOE ID Number: 2019-01_111462366
Date Posted: 02/14/2019
Date Inactive: 07/31/2019
Position Title/Short Description
Title: Senior Fellow
Section: Full-Time Nonacademic
Location: San Francisco, California, UNITED STATES
JEL Classifications:
O -- Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth
I -- Health, Education, and Welfare
Development Economics
Charity recommendation
Global health and development
Full Text of JOE Listing:

About GiveWell

The objective of our research is to identify the giving opportunities which can most cost-effectively improve the lives of the global poor.

GiveWell is expanding our research team so we can broaden the scope of our research and explore global health and development more completely than we have to date. More information is available in this blog post: .

Our top charities accomplish a huge amount of good. They deliver basic commodities (for example, anti-malarial nets or deworming pills) and cash to the global poor. At our recommendation, donors directed $117 million to these charities in 2017. We roughly estimate that, in expectation, these funds prevented 19,000 deaths, dewormed 50 million children and gave cash to 8,300 poor households. The donors who use our research follow our recommendations closely, so the decisions our research team makes directly affect not only which organizations receive funding, but also the amount of funding each organization receives.

We also made an additional $16 million in incubation grants to support work that may lead to new top charities in the future or better information on current top charities.

By joining GiveWell you will have the opportunity to influence and contribute to the direction we take, potentially influencing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding.

Over the next few years, we plan to roughly double the size of our research team, from a team of 10 today. We're looking for the researchers who can help us expand the scope of our research to cover types of programs we have not yet developed the capabilities to evaluate (including additional direct-delivery programs, technical assistance, and policy advocacy) and become future leaders of our growing research team.

As part of the research team, you will help us identify, analyze and compare funding opportunities so that we direct funding to the most impactful organizations.

The Role

As a researcher at GiveWell, you will work on a variety of projects. Senior staff work closely with new hires and attempt to tailor your assignments to those best suited to your abilities.

Responsibilities Include:
-Analyzing interventions (e.g., tobacco taxation, solar panel provision, surgical interventions) at various levels of depth to refine our view about the cost-effectiveness a particular intervention and recommend either deprioritization or further work. Researchers review existing empirical evidence about intervention impacts, build preliminary cost-effectiveness models, and speak with subject matter experts about particular interventions.
-Building cost-effectiveness models to estimate the costs and benefits of a particular intervention. These models take into account a wide variety of considerations, including: one's prior estimate for an intervention's impact, the strength of the evidence, the size of the effects, the similarity between the context in which an intervention was studied and will be implemented, negative and/or offsetting effects, and how funding this intervention would affect decisions by other actors (e.g., local government, donor governments).
-Reviewing specific giving opportunities. We receive and solicit requests for funding on an ongoing basis as part of our Incubation Grants program. Researchers investigate each of these opportunities to determine whether or not they should receive funding. Reviewers discuss each grant opportunity with the applying organization, consider its plans and assess the likelihood it will achieve them, estimate the cost-effectiveness of a grant and forecast its likelihood of success. When necessary, they solicit feedback from outside experts (e.g., academics, government officials) about the opportunity.
-Building relationships with experts relevant to our work, for example, academics who specialize in interventions we are reviewing (e.g., malaria, deworming, tobacco taxation), leaders and program staff at organizations we are considering for funding, and program staff at foundations who are also evaluating where to allocate funds.
-Publishing reports and blog posts on our website. Transparency is a core value of ours and we aim to publish as much supporting information regarding our conclusions as we can. Researchers write up our findings and reasoning for publication on our website or summarize key points from their work in blog posts.
-Exploring new areas of research. We are currently building our team and substantially expanding the scope of our research. We expect new hires will help lead this expansion by assessing areas of global health and development that appear promising but which we have not sufficiently considered to date, such as policy-oriented interventions. Our researchers also generate and share ideas for funding opportunities that might be better than the current organizations we recommend.
-Managing a team of researchers. As we grow our team, we will be looking internally and externally for researchers who can move into roles managing research teams. Research managers set team priorities, review and give feedback on research work produced by team members, mentor team members and provide career development, and assess and communicate job performance.

About you

Senior Fellows should have a relevant advanced degree, such as a Ph.D. in economics.

Ideally you have all of the following characteristics. Many excellent candidates will have some (but not all) of the characteristics below, and we encourage you to apply even if do not have all of the below. We expect you will be:
-Passionate about helping the global poor as much as possible. GiveWell is currently focused on programs that target low- and low-to-middle-income countries. We are looking for people who are passionate about maximizing what can be accomplished with the resources available to help to people in these countries.
-Skilled at clearly expressing what you believe and why, often in writing. We aim to be as transparent as possible about what we believe and why. This pertains to our published research as well as our internal communication.
-Competent in interpreting and critiquing statistical analysis. A basic understanding of causal inference is helpful (for example, understanding the typical limitations of experimental, quasi-experimental, and observational methods; being able to quickly read and understand a regression table). We believe a truth-seeking attitude (objectivity, curiosity, open-mindedness, humility) can be as valuable as formal statistical training.
-Motivated by having your work have a direct impact on improving the lives of the global poor. Typical GiveWell work is often closer to a policy job than an academic job. We go as deep as needed to make a decision, but are comfortable making decisions with imperfect information. Important inputs in our cost-effectiveness analyses have often not been the subject of academic studies. You should be comfortable using creative methods to make reasonable estimates based on uncertain parameters.
-Excited by working at a growing, agile organization. GiveWell currently has approximately 25 full-time staff members. This means that we expect a lot from each individual, and we often ask people to contribute outside their core area of focus. If you like trying and learning new things, we are potentially a great fit.

Application Requirements:
  • External Application Link
  • Letters of Reference Instructions Below
Reference Instructions:
You may also send additional material, such as cover letters or letters of reference, to support your application; this is not required. Please send those materials to