Penn Wharton PPI sponsors public policy related research positions across the University. In order to strengthen opportunities for students to be involved in U.S. public policy research, Penn Wharton PPI connects students seeking part-time work as research assistants with Penn Wharton PPI faculty affiliates. Public Policy Research Scholars are eligible for these opportunities to assist with faculty-led policy research.
Example Research Opportunities
Professor Lockwood works in Behavioral Public Finance, meaning he asks key questions about tax systems, tax credits, and other fiscal levers and tries to determine how consumers’ and taxpayers’ decision-making impacts their efficiency. I came to Professor Lockwood because his work provided me an opportunity to combine my interests in economics and public policy with my passion for data-driven conclusions. We started off with a highly technical project where my job was to scrape Treasury forms off of the website of the Office of Management and Budget and develop a natural language processing initial analysis to determine a measure of tax form complexity. I’ve since dived deeper into some of the optimal taxation theory. For example, we developed a model in Matlab which allows calculation of consumption behavior for present-biased consumers. We can use this model to predict how consumers during the Great Recession responded to an increased Earned Income Tax Credit - do they spend it immediately or are they using it to supplement income over time? Working with Professor Lockwood has given me the opportunity to explore new methodologies, scrape together literature reviews on topics I don’t explore in class (like a weeklong deep dive into soda taxes earlier last Fall), and develop extremely extensible and modular coding practices. ~Prakash Mishra, W’19
I’ve been working as a research assistant for Professor Sarah Light in the Legal Studies and Business Ethics department since the summer of Freshman year. Professor Light’s research broadly focuses on how to encourage businesses to be more environmentally responsible. Within this, she explores a multitude of questions, such as whether or not firms are wrongfully benefitting if they are profiting off of environmental damage; how environmental law should not just regulate the output of a firm, but encompass corporate law as a whole and consider internal decision making processes; and how universities can be viewed as an experimenter of private environmental governance. Working with Professor Light has given me the opportunity to combine my interest in public policy with business by studying the intersection between regulation and business and how these institutions should cooperate with each other to optimize socially responsible goals. ~Stephanie Wu, W’20