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Raj Chetty: The Beyonce of Economics

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
June 2021
Raj Chetty: The Beyonce of Economics

Raj Chetty, the 41-year-old economics professor at Harvard University, has been widely admired for his research, but he has probably never been called the “Beyoncé of economics,” as he was on a recent episode of NPR’s Planet Money.

Greg Rosalsky, a writer for Planet Money, made the comparison to the hip-hop star as he revealed his obsession with Chetty’s work.

“Some people have LeBron James, other people have Taylor Swift, I have Raj,” he said. “Raj Chetty coming out with a new paper for me is like Radiohead or Kendrick Lamar dropping an album. I’ll be with it for hours.”

Chetty, the William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics at Harvard, has been a tenured professor since age 28. Among his papers: “How does your kindergarten classroom affect your earnings? Evidence from Project STAR” and “The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940.”

“If you don’t know who Raj is, he’s super-concerned about these problems that our society is facing . . . poverty, inequality, declining social mobility,” Rosalsky said. “He’s always about finding the best evidence on how to defeat those things.”

The hosts of Planet Money surprised Rosalsky by putting Chetty on the line.

“Oh my God, Raj is here!” Rosalsky exclaimed.

“I’m delighted that I’m your Beyoncé of economics,” Chetty said. “I’ve never been called Beyoncé before, so I’ll take that as a big compliment . . . What we really appreciate is folks who actually take the trouble to read the papers.

 

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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]



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