Announcing a predoctoral research programme in economics at the Global Priorities Institute


We are ex­cited to an­nounce the GPI Pre­doc­toral Re­search Pro­gramme, a one-to-two-year po­si­tion for early-ca­reer re­searchers in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing aca­demic ca­reers in eco­nomics to ad­vance the field of global pri­ori­ties re­search.

Pre­doc­toral re­search fel­lows will spend one to two years in Oxford, de­pend­ing on their prefer­ence, pro­vid­ing re­search as­sis­tance both to se­nior GPI re­searchers and to fac­ulty in Oxford’s Depart­ment of Eco­nomics. Re­searchers will have ac­cess to open plan desk space in the Depart­ment of Eco­nomics, and will have the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend sem­i­nars and to en­rol in an Eco­nomics MPhil grad­u­ate op­tion course, sub­ject to ap­proval. More in­for­ma­tion about the pro­gramme can be found on the GPI web­site.

Mo­ti­va­tion for the programme

GPI aims to work to­ward a world in which large-scale poli­ti­cal and philan­thropic re­source al­lo­ca­tion de­ci­sions are rou­tinely made on the ba­sis of rigourous aca­demic re­search into how to do as much good as pos­si­ble.

We be­lieve that cur­rently main­stream ap­proaches to policy anal­y­sis and pro­gramme eval­u­a­tion give in­suffi­cient at­ten­tion to a va­ri­ety of key con­sid­er­a­tions, including

  • the com­par­i­son of in­ter­ven­tions across very differ­ent cause ar­eas;

  • the com­par­i­son of po­ten­tial im­pacts on the size and num­ber of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions; and

  • the es­ti­ma­tion and in­cor­po­ra­tion of flow-through effects, in­clud­ing those that may per­sist into the very dis­tant fu­ture.

We there­fore hope to build an aca­demic field, termed ‘global pri­ori­ties re­search’, pop­u­lated by world-class re­searchers ap­ply­ing tools from eco­nomics, philos­o­phy, and other dis­ci­plines to the many unan­swered ques­tions posed by the pro­ject of global pri­ori­ti­sa­tion.

Thanks in large part to the effec­tive al­tru­ism move­ment, there are cur­rently many en­thu­si­as­tic young peo­ple with an un­der­grad­u­ate train­ing in eco­nomics and an in­ter­est in build­ing the field of global pri­ori­ties re­search. On the other hand, there do not yet ap­pear to be many se­nior re­searchers in eco­nomics who en­gage di­rectly with foun­da­tional ques­tions of global pri­ori­ti­sa­tion. The GPI Pre­doc­toral Re­search Pro­gramme is de­signed in re­sponse to this pair of cir­cum­stances. Pre­doc­toral re­search fel­lows will re­ceive men­tor­ship con­cern­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the global pri­ori­ties re­search com­mu­nity, as well as the re­search train­ing nec­es­sary for ad­mit­tance to a world-class grad­u­ate pro­gramme in eco­nomics.

Should I ap­ply?

The Pre­doc­toral Re­search Pro­gramme re­quires an un­der­grad­u­ate or mas­ter’s de­gree in eco­nomics or a closely re­lated dis­ci­pline, com­pleted by spring 2019, and ev­i­dence of strong re­search po­ten­tial. An in­ten­tion to pur­sue an aca­demic ca­reer in global pri­ori­ties re­search is also re­quired. Can­di­dates of all na­tion­al­ities who meet these crite­ria are en­couraged to ap­ply.

The ideal can­di­date will have a strong back­ground in math­e­mat­ics, an­a­lytic philos­o­phy and (es­pe­cially) eco­nomics; prior re­search ex­pe­rience; and close fa­mil­iar­ity with the think­ing that has already been pro­duced by the effec­tive al­tru­ism com­mu­nity.

Those in­tend­ing to pur­sue ca­reers in less foun­da­tional ar­eas of eco­nomic re­search, such as main­stream de­vel­op­ment eco­nomics or do­mes­tic policy anal­y­sis, are not en­couraged to ap­ply.

I’m an as­piring eco­nomics re­searcher, but this pro­gramme isn’t right for me at the mo­ment. How else can I get in­volved?

Cur­rent stu­dents and re­searchers at any level are of course more than wel­come to work in­de­pen­dently on top­ics listed on the GPI re­search agenda. You are also wel­come to ex­plore global pri­ori­ties re­search ques­tions for­mu­lated el­se­where, such as on the ‘eco­nomics’ page of the web­site effec­tivethe­ If you pro­duce a piece of re­search you think may be rele­vant to the ques­tion of global pri­ori­ti­sa­tion, please let us know!

Eco­nomics stu­dents in­ter­ested in en­ter­ing global pri­ori­ties re­search are also en­couraged to take course­work, and gain re­search ex­pe­rience, in the most rele­vant sub­fields of eco­nomics. In par­tic­u­lar, while valuable in­sights can come from any source, we cur­rently (ten­ta­tively) be­lieve that the most promis­ing sub­fields of eco­nomics are microe­co­nomic the­ory, poli­ti­cal econ­omy, the eco­nomics of dis­count­ing and op­ti­mal timing and the eco­nomics of catas­trophic risk. More gen­er­ally, we be­lieve that the­o­ret­i­cal tools will typ­i­cally prove more valuable than em­piri­cal tools at this stage. This is be­cause the task of cre­at­ing a frame­work within which to eval­u­ate im­pacts on very long timescales al­lows rel­a­tively lit­tle di­rectly rele­vant data.

For cur­rent job open­ings in global pri­ori­ties re­search, check out the 80,000 Hours job board.

If you have any ques­tions about the Pre­doc­toral Re­search Pro­gramme, or about get­ting in­volved with GPI or global pri­ori­ties re­search in any other ca­pac­ity, please don’t hes­i­tate to email gpi-office@philos­o­