Josh Angrist studies a wide range of causal questions in social science. Does more schooling boost income for the educated? Are those accepted to college likely to earn more anyway? Does it matter where you go to school? These questions are challenging because differences in life outcomes, such as differences between university and high school graduates, need not capture causal effects. That’s why clinical trials, such as for COVID vaccines, rely on random assignment into treatment and control groups. Randomization ensures that the difference in COVID infection rates between treatment and control groups are true apples-to-apples comparisons.
Angrist has pioneered research exploiting circumstances where randomization is naturally-occurring rather than part of a clinical study. In path-breaking methodological work, Angrist and Guido Imbens showed how to apply and interpret econometric strategies using natural experiments to estimate causal effects. For their influential work, Angrist and Imbens shared half of the 2021 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Beyond his methodological contributions, Angrist has examined labor-economics questions ranging from the effects of childbearing on mothers’ employment and earnings to effects of military service on veterans’ health and wages later in life.
Born in Columbus, Ohio in 1960, Angrist received a BA in economics from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1982 and a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1989. Angrist has taught at Harvard University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and MIT. Since 1996, Angrist has been a Professor of Economics at MIT. Angrist is also co-founder and director of MIT’s Blueprint Labs, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.