The Chilean economist Christopher Neilson (41 years old), who has had a meteoric career in the academic world of the United States, becoming one of the most renowned nationals in the world, achieved a new milestone this week, previously achieved only by Ricardo Caballero ( MIT): the tenure (associate professor) in a Top 5 university in the USA.
Neison was voted this week by Princeton University, the fifth in the United States and the sixth in the world, according to the prestigious Shanghai (Arwu) ranking, as a tenure, which is a kind of “life contract”, in which he no longer New evaluations are required for continuity in the position and which are accessed only by the best academics.
The economist -who was also a national Rugby team- has been working at that university for six years and is the first Chilean professor of economics at Princeton University, until now with the position of assistant professor, where he also dedicates himself to study. topics of industrial organization specialized in educational markets and human capital. He had been awarded the Review of Economic Studies Tour for having one of the best Phd theses in the world in 2014, which examines the effects of government subsidies on education. The economist was the first Chilean to achieve this recognition.
“Specifically, I study how the State can promote and improve the quality and equity of education in educational systems when there is public / private provision (as is common in most countries),” says Neilson, who was also named one of the economists Chile’s most prominent U-45s today, according to their peers.
In addition, Neilson is already the third most cited Chilean by academic publications, taking into account only the works of the last decade, only behind Ricardo Caballero (MIT) and Sergio Urzúa (Maryland).
Regarding the achievement achieved this week, Neilson points out that “it has been a long road and a lot of effort and luck.”
A small group of tenured professors is assigned the task of summarizing all the scientific material that the assistant professor has produced and they ask 8 experts in the assistant professor’s area of study to help them evaluate the contribution to knowledge in that area and its recommendation on whether to promote or not. After finishing collecting all the material and gathering the letters from the external experts, the case is presented to all the tenured professors on the campus of the economics department. In Princeton’s case this is more than 40 teachers, explains Neilson about the evaluation process.
“This whole process is done in secret and it is not known exactly when it is or who writes external evaluation letters. It is a time of great stress for researchers as it is the entire profession that evaluates the contribution of the research of the assistant professor. Many who have subsequently obtained the Nobel Prize have been rejected at this stage of their careers, so it is not the end but it can also go wrong for anyone “, the economist points out.
Neilson studied economics at the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEN) of the University of Chile, where he worked mainly with Dante Contreras and Óscar Landerretche. From there he worked for three years at the Central Bank as assistant to José De Gregorio when he was president.
“Joe Ramos and Dante Contreras were figures that made me think about pursuing a career in research and doing a PhD in the US. The context in Economics of the U of Chile at that time was that with empirical evidence it was possible to move towards doing public policies well and thereby helping many people. It was something that motivated the students a lot. The master’s degree in Chile also added a training that prepared for the PhD and also spoke a lot about the experiences of others who had left before and that helped a lot as well. Others who helped me a lot were Oscar Landerretche, Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel. In addition, I spent three years working with José de Gregorio and he was my main mentor at that stage, “he says.
Known the news, Landerretche says to Pulse that “the Gringo Neilson is one of the FEN’s success stories. He was a student and my assistant in various courses. I had the privilege of seeing and supporting its evolution. Outstanding. He started out as an excellent athlete and progressed until he became an excellent economist. At FEN we are very proud of the success it has had in the top academic world ”.
For its part, the former president of the Central Bank, José de Gregorio, indicates that “Christopher Neilson always stood out for his intellectual capacity and tireless work capacity. Well deserved its tenure. A pride for the FEN and for the country. And I am very happy to have contributed something to their training ”.
While, the professor of the Institute of Economics of the UC and Scientific Director J-PAL LAC, Francisco Gallego, highlights that “Christopher’s is a tremendous achievement. Having tenure in a top 5 world economics department is extremely difficult. Much deserved, Chris not only has numerous top publications (and several to come) but above all he has an important research agenda that will continue for many years. Apply tools from different areas to answer relevant questions. He has very powerful projects and has also built a kind of seedbed working in many countries with governments, so he is someone who goes beyond merely writing papers, but tries to influence public policies from that ”.
Neilson did his Ph.D. in economics at Yale University. The academic of that house of studies and ex-professor guide (advisor) of the Chilean, Steven Berry, highlights that “Chris is passionately interested in the subject of his research, of which a very important part is focused on improving the education of students, particularly poor students in the Americas. With the same passion, he maintains the highest academic standards, which accounts for his impressive record of research publications. Chris collects and creates new data sources, combining them with cutting-edge research methods that help inform economists and policy makers alike. He not only proposes new policies, but also helps governments implement them at scale, leading measurable improvements in people’s lives. “
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Academic milestone: Christopher Neilson is the second Chilean economist after Ricardo Caballero to achieve higher status in the Top 5 US university – La Tercera