Project Associate, US Household Finance Initiative
Innovations for Poverty Action - New Haven, CT

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The US Household Finance Initiative (USHFI) is a research initiative within IPA focusing on issues of financial inclusion and well-being for low- to moderate-income households in the United States. Using insights from behavioral economics, we develop, pilot, and rigorously test innovations in financial products designed to help such households pay down debt, build savings, and better manage their finances.

Position Summary :

IPA’s US Household Finance Initiative is seeking a qualified project associate to oversee a unique project looking at the effectiveness of habit formation in building savings. Many individuals find it difficult to save regularly for the future. As a result, they must borrow expensively to make large purchases, withstand an emergency, or meet other needs. Yet, once consumers have taken a loan, they are often able to make regular payments. Payments towards loans and contributions towards savings are thus seen by consumers in different ways, even though they can fulfill the same needs.

This observation motivated the development of “Pay Yourself Back,” a product innovation that IPA piloted from 2011-2013 with Montana Credit Unions for Community Development and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota . Pay Yourself Back is designed to leverage a pre-existing habit of making payments to seamlessly convert borrowers into savers. The concept is simple: borrowers make a commitment to continue to make “payments” after they have finished paying off their loan. Instead of going to a lender, however, these payments go towards the person’s own savings account. The person is thus “paying herself back.”

IPA is currently rolling out a more extensive test of the Pay Yourself Back product in partnership with the Filene Research Institute . Five credit unions from throughout the United States will offer the product to their members. The project is concerned with learning more about (1) consumer demand for the product and optimal product design; and (2) the impacts of the product on consumer debt, savings, and ability to weather financial shocks. This project offers the opportunity to gain extensive experience in project management, relationship management, and domestic finance.


The Project Associate will be expected to lead all aspects of the management of this project. This includes but is not limited to:
  • Coordinate with and provide reports to the Filene Research Institute
  • Develop and maintain relationships with partner credit unions, including travel to meet in-person and provide training and technical assistance in implementing the Pay Yourself Back project
  • Maintain communications with USHFI principal investigators, Profs. Jonathan Zinman and Dean Karlan
  • Develop evaluation plans, policy memos, reports, and training materials, as needed
  • Work with credit union partners to collect data on product uptake and use
  • Conduct focus groups or other qualitative data collection, as needed
  • Provide detailed data analysis and reports to both academic and non-academic audiences
  • A Bachelor's degree in economics, statistics, social sciences, or related fields, although prior/alternative learning and work experience will be considered
  • Excellent management and organizational skills
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and a team player
  • Fluency and excellent communication skills in English
  • Knowledge of Stata or other data analysis software, along with strong quantitative skills
  • Must be willing to travel within the United States
  • Prior project management experience preferred
  • Familiarity with research design and particularly the design of randomized evaluations preferred
  • Familiarity with financial services provision in the US, and particularly with credit unions, preferred
  • Experience working with low-income populations in the US preferred
Application Instructions:

**To be considered for this postion, please be sure to submit a cover letter specific to this position**

1. To apply, please click here

2. Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application . Please select the position(s) you are interested in applying for on the 'Submit Application' page. Include two letters of recommendation, statement of purpose (cover letter), CV, and transcripts. We will consider your application even if you are unable to obtain reference letters before the deadline, but please be advised that we will be requiring them should you be invited for an interview.

Innovations for Poverty Action is an EO Employer-MF/Veteran/Disability. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other protected class.

IPA will endeavor to make a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant with a disability unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of our business. If you believe you require such assistance to complete this form or to participate in an interview, please contact us at or via phone at 1-203-772-2216.

DISCLAIMER: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work to be performed by the Project Associate . The statements are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Management reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet organizational needs as necessary. Please note that IPA will never request any form of payment from an applicant. Applicants are encouraged to confirm the information listed above with IPA prior to releasing any extensive personal information to the organization. Please direct questions to .

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