By Dilnovoz Abdurazzakova & Erick Baumgartner

large group photo
CID's PhD Development Retreat, February 2024. Fellows Dilnovoz Abdurazzakova (second from right, front row) and Erick Baumgartner (third from right, back row) attended alongside other researchers from the CID and Yale Economic Growth Center communities.

Dilnovoz Abdurazzakova and Erick Baumgartner are the inaugural fellows sponsored by the Harvard Center for International Development's (CID) Visiting Researcher Program. With sponsorship from UniCredit Foundation, this program brings postdoctoral and PhD student researchers from the UniCredit Bank’s extensive European network to CID. Program participants have the opportunity to join CID’s vibrant research community and learn from leading Harvard faculty and researchers. Here, they reflect on their time at CID and the impact it has had on their research.

1) Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, and why did you decide to join Harvard CID?  

Dilnovoz: I am a third-year PhD candidate in Economics at Central European University in Vienna, Austria. My research focuses on development economics, with a particular emphasis on poverty, gender inequality, and the economics of education. My current research, aimed at addressing one of these development challenges, led me to the Harvard Kennedy School as a visiting PhD fellow at CID.

Erick: My name is Erick Baumgartner and I'm a Brazilian Economics PhD student at Bocconi University, in Italy. Before starting my PhD, I worked as a Field Coordinator supporting the impact evaluation department at the World Bank (DIME). My research topics and my previous work experience are very connected to the topics studied by CID researchers, so I applied for the call for visiting PhD fellows to be able to have closer contact to their work and experience the research environment of CID.

2) What does your research focus on?

Dilnovoz: My current research studies how social norms influence career and educational aspirations of high school students in developing countries. By considering common societal structures in these regions, I am designing a hopefully more effective intervention in which high school students are informed about STEM occupations, along with high-income husbands learning the benefits of having a wife with a successful career. This field experiment tests if such interventions encourage girls to pursue more STEM classes, thus investing more in their education and aiming for better-paying jobs.

Erik Baumgartner and others viewing the solar eclipe.
Erik Baumgartner (right) viewing the solar eclipse in Harvard Square with CID colleagues.

Erick: I am an applied microeconomist focusing on the areas of Political, Labor and Development Economics. My work across these fields is aimed at evaluating social policy and the institutional framework on which these policies are decided, attempting to propose measures that can improve the efficiency of the policy decision process, its targeting and allocation.

3) Here at CID, we are united around our mission of building a thriving world for all. How will your research propel this mission forward?

Dilnovoz: My research aims to develop effective role model interventions to address gender inequality in developing countries, where women are often underrepresented in high-paying jobs. Coming from Uzbekistan, I experienced myself how important it is for women to (a) have family besides any kind of work and (b) that their husbands approve of their career choices. Hence, I attempted to integrate these societal structure aspects in my interventions to encourage more girls to pursue STEM careers, thereby promoting gender equality and economic development in low-income countries. This approach is not only innovative but also cost-effective, making it feasible for countries with limited budgets.

Erick: My research topics have, as a common thread, the objective of evaluating social and economic policy in an attempt to improve its structure and mechanisms. This can be done both through observational studies, such as in the article "Payroll Tax, Employment and Labor Market Concentration," where we assess the impacts of a payroll tax reform in Brazil aimed at boosting formal employment and how the labor market structure may play a role in affecting the consequences of this reform, or through randomized control trials, such as in a project in the state of Bahia, Brazil, where we evaluate different criteria in the selection of peer educators to participate in a project where they are the main actors in a program to teach their colleagues about sexual and reproductive health and aspirations. By assessing the impacts of these policies, we're able to understand what the impacts of these measures are and how can we improve their implementation in the future.

4) What has most surprised you about living in Cambridge/Boston?

woman with dark hair sitting on a bench with city skyline in background
CID Fellow Dilnovoz Abdurazzakova in Boston, MA.

Dilnovoz: A lot of things have surprised me! The international diversity of the city, along with the stunning coexistence of architecture and nature, is truly remarkable. I love spending the entire day walking around the campuses and along the river. Additionally, people here are very friendly; they seem genuinely happy, making eye contact and engaging in small talk. Lastly, the people at CID and others I've met at Harvard are incredibly passionate about addressing development issues. Their dedication motivates me to keep working on my project and to seek valuable advice from them along the way.

Erick: It was my first time spending a long period in the United States, so I believe everything was a bit new. I was happy with how easy it is to bike around the city, and just the experience with the University itself. The seminars and events I was able to attend were very interesting.

5) Has this experience helped inform your research? If so, how?

Dilnovoz: Yes, this experience has significantly informed my research. Interacting with great researchers and other expert practitioners at CID and Harvard has provided me with valuable insights and perspectives. Getting the invaluable guidance of Michela Carlana and other esteemed professors at CID refined my approach to studying social norms and educational aspirations. The collaborative environment and access to diverse resources have enabled me to design more effective interventions and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities in development economics.

Erick: It was surely very helpful! I had the opportunity to present my work, get feedback and speak with many people with similar research interests. I'm very grateful for having this opportunity!

Fellows at CID become part of a tight-knit community of researchers dedicated to building a thriving world for all.
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CID Staff

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