We are seeking an Applied Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow to join a large ongoing collaboration aimed at understanding the dynamic interplay of social and economic inequality. This collaboration, titled the “ENDOW” project (for Economic Networks and the Dynamics of Wealth inequality). The fellow will work closely with SFI faculty members on the project’s leadership team, including: Samuel Bowles, Matthew Jackson, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, and Eleanor Power. The fellow will also collaborate with the broader ENDOW team, which includes forty-plus anthropologists gathering detailed demographic, economic, and social network data in communities around the world across two waves, all with the aim of tracking changes in material and relational wealth over time. This project’s rich data have the potential to answer fundamental questions about the drivers of inequality around the globe, but such comparative work requires great care and consideration. This postdoctoral fellow will help in this task, leading on the development of formal, computational, and statistical models to further the analytical and intellectual aims of this project.
At its core, this project is comparative. We are working with approximately fifty communities that are diverse not only geographically (Tanzania, Mexico, Burkina Faso, India, Papua New Guinea, etc.) but also in terms of livelihood strategies, kinship and descent, market integration, and demography. Such diversity is central to ENDOW objectives, but also makes comparison difficult, as we want to be sure that the differences we see in the data are due to actual differences on the ground, rather than differences in measurement. For example, what defines a “household” varies so substantially across ENDOW communities that we instead refer to “sharing units.” If we want to model variation in the effect of sharing units’ relational wealth on their ability to improve their material wealth over time, we need to understand how the composition of sharing units and our measurement of those units varies across communities. Add to this the wrinkle that sharing unit composition can change across time, and it should be obvious that the ENDOW project has many challenging but compelling modelling issues to tackle, with respect to understanding the dynamics of changes in inequality over time.
The position is supported by the Santa Fe Institute’s Emergent Political Economies grant from the Omidyar Network, and the broader ENDOW project is funded by the US National Science Foundation.
The ideal candidate for this role would have a strong grounding in mathematical and computational modelling, network analysis, and Bayesian statistics. We have already begun the work of developing these models, in collaboration with economists, statisticians, and network scientists. To date, this has involved the development of Bayesian latent variable models (see e.g., https://doi.org/10.1093/jrsssa/qnac004). We hope to build on this work, and to develop models that more directly articulate (through formal and agent-based models) and test (through statistical models) the hypothesized causal relationships between relational and material wealth. This will entail working closely with the large and complex ENDOW database, so the ideal candidate would additionally be able to contribute to database management and work closely with ENDOW team members in cleaning and processing their data contributions. Experience with GitHub and R is therefore preferred.
The ideal candidate does not necessarily need to be trained in a social science but should be adept at working collaboratively with social scientists and interested in making contributions to social scientific questions. Furthermore, they should be interested in sharing our findings and their implications with a wider audience, in both academic and non-academic settings. One element of this will entail convening and chairing two virtual meetings per year with scholars exploring the causes and consequences of inequality, policy makers from international NGOs concerned with inequality and poverty alleviation, and other relevant representatives of civil society. For the Applied Fellow, a goal of these discussions should be to gain an understanding of how policy makers address and problematize inequality, and how new methods and approaches, such as the ones being developed under ENDOW, might be used inform better decision-making. For the broader community that is convened, a goal of these meetings should be to learn from a highly interdisciplinary and interprofessional discussion of inequality measures and their applications. Another element could entail proposing a teaching module on networks and inequality for the CORE (Curriculum Open-access Resources in Economics) program, a free online platform with educational material used in over 300 institutions around the world and reaching over 100,000 students each year (https://www.core-econ.org/).
The Applied Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow will be based at the Santa Fe Institute, and work in close collaboration with ENDOW project leaders and team members, based at institutions around the world. This is a two-year post.
All applications completed by January 16, 2024 will be given full consideration. Apply here.
The Santa Fe Institute is an equal opportunity employer. Women and members of underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply, as are individuals who have taken unconventional paths in their careers.
SFI is a vaccinated community; to be employed by SFI and on-site you must provide proof of primary vaccination against COVID-19.