Senior Policy Associate

J-PAL, United States

Skill Required:, Finance and Accounts
Preferred Experience: 
3 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
30th November, 2019

Job Description

J-PAL is recruiting a Senior Policy Associate with a focus on Financial Inclusion to contribute to its mission of promoting evidence-informed policy. This position is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA.

The Policy Group plays a key role in translating research by J-PAL affiliates into actionable poverty alleviation policies around the world. Staff connect the dots between economics and policy and are passionate about working with organizations to inform development policy.

J-PAL's Finance sector aims to provide rigorous evidence on the impact of financial products and services, and to understand how access to financial services can be used as a mechanism to reduce poverty and spur economic development.

J-PAL affiliates' research in the Finance sector explores critical questions in financial inclusion, including how to increase access to financial products and services, how to ensure that products are designed to meet customers’ needs, how best to leverage the growth in digital financial services for development, and how to enable consumption smoothing over time and in the face of income shocks.

Staff support the generation, synthesis, dissemination, and use of evidence in financial inclusion. Staff support the generation, synthesis, dissemination, and use of evidence related to financial inclusion.


  • Your work requires a breadth of knowledge and a depth of understanding to support J-PAL’s growing policy efforts. As a Senior Policy Associate (Financial Inclusion), your primary tasks will involve managing the Finance sector, communication, and analysis.
  • Sector Management (35%): Act as lead staff on J-PAL’s Finance sector, working with 1-2 associate-level staff within the sector. Work with Sector Chair Dean Karlan (Northwestern) to create and update synthesis products that describe the current state of knowledge in financial inclusion, organize events for policymakers and practitioners, and work with implementing organizations to develop new randomized evaluations on key finance questions.
  • Regional Liaison (5%): Serve as primary liaison between J-PAL Global and one of J-PAL’s regional offices covering Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
  • Communication (30%): Build relationships with key partners in governments, NGOs, foundations and multilateral aid agencies worldwide, and present J-PAL’s work and research in the finance sector. Write publications that “translate” J-PAL’s economic research into lessons for policymakers around the world. You will create materials for policy outreach, including policy insights and presentations, as well as other high-level deliverables, as requested by J-PAL senior staff and affiliates.
  • Analysis (10%): Conduct research and analysis for policy memos, grant proposals, and Finance sector-specific work. Collect and examine project implementation data to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses.
  • Other (20%): Provide support to broader J-PAL projects and undertake professional development opportunities.

Professional Development

The Policy Group invests in your professional development. As a Senior Policy Associate, you will learn, engage, travel, and grow.

  • Learn: J-PAL supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend weekly MIT–Harvard Development Seminars and take classes for credit at MIT or elsewhere with our generous tuition assistance program. All J-PAL staff are also eligible to take the innovative online MITx MicroMasters credential in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) free of charge.
  • Engage: Senior Associates have the opportunity to work with J-PAL affiliated researchers and directors, as well as interact with J-PAL partners, including decision-makers and practitioners, alongside senior staff. As core content creators, Senior Associates’ publications are distributed to development stakeholders worldwide.
  • Travel: Senior Associates have the opportunity to present at J-PAL’s regional offices, attend policy events worldwide, and participate in a unique “Associate-to-Field” international experience supporting on-the-ground research during their time at J-PAL.
  • Grow: Senior Associates can expect to join a peer group eager to build institutional knowledge and pass on lessons learned. Senior Associates receive one-on-one mentorship from senior staff. Promotions to Policy Manager are based on performance, ability, and educational qualifications.


As a member of the MIT community, you benefit from more than just your salary.

J-PAL hires highly qualified staff and rewards them accordingly. Total compensation packages are competitive for the non-profit international development field with excellent MIT benefits, including comprehensive health insurance, a 401(k) match and pension-based retirement plan, tuition assistance, commuter benefits, MIT community discounts, a generous vacation policy, and more. We like working at MIT and think you will too.


Your technical expertise, strong communication and organizational skills, passion for translating research into action, and interest in international development make you an ideal candidate for Senior Policy Associate.

  • Education: You hold a bachelor’s (master’s preferred) with significant training in economics, including intermediate-level economics, econometrics, and calculus. Do you have a demonstrated academic interest in international development and public policy and/or study abroad experience? Even better.
  • Experience: Up to four years of relevant work experience. Some of your work experience has focused on financial inclusion or social protection. Skills: You are comfortable learning computer applications, including Salesforce. Knowledge of French, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesia, or other languages spoken in our regions of work a plus.


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