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Research Associate (Income and Benefits Policy Center)

Urban Institute

This is a Full-time position in Washington, DC posted June 11, 2021.

Who we are:

At the nonprofit Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities.

Our employees are empowered to open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions.

We encourage intellectual honesty, innovation, diversity, and mutual respect, and our analysis elevates the debate, wherever it takes place.

Urban’s greatest asset is our people.

We strive to attract and cultivate a vibrant, creative, and diverse community.

Our employees drive Urban’s mission through entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, effective communication, results-orientation, and relationship cultivation.

Our success depends on engaging individuals who possess and value these attributes.

Researchers, programmers, and analysts in the Income and Benefits Policy Center provide decision-makers with crucial information by predicting how policy changes will affect people, programs, and government.

Our research on how the social safety net affects families’ economic well-being helps policymakers determine the best use of available resources.

How you’ll contribute:

The successful candidate will work with a team to maintain and further develop sophisticated micro-simulation models that simulate safety-net benefits and tax liabilities and estimate the impacts of proposed legislation on individuals and population subgroups.

Working as both programmer and analyst, the successful candidate will also perform quantitative analyses, such as tabulating data from large survey or administrative data files, performing statistical matches, contributing to reports of research findings, and documenting updates to microsimulation models.

The level of responsibility will initially be commensurate with skills; it will grow as the successful candidate gains knowledge and experience.


Under the supervision of a senior programmer/analyst, program microsimulation models coded in C++ according to specifications provided by analysts

Participate in maintaining a sophisticated database that holds detailed policy data

Debug technical issues that arise in using the models and the associated analytical tools

Obtain and process data from large national surveys such as the CPS and ACS

Tabulate and summarize data using SAS

Prepare or contribute to memos discussing methods and results of analyses
Update simulation model documentation
What you’ll bring:

The successful candidate will:

Possess the required skills and experience (analytical, programming, communication, quantitative) at a level that is generally associated with the attainment of a Masters or PhD degree in a field related to social science (e.g., Economics, Public Policy, Statistics, Data Science, and so on), combined with at least 2 years of non-academic work experience in a setting demonstrating these skills

Have education and/or experience in C++, SAS, and MySQL or comparable software

Be familiar with web development tools such as PHP and Perl scripts

Be able to work independently or as part of a team

Be highly detail-oriented

Have excellent written and oral communication skills

Be flexible, with the ability to move quickly from one task to another

Have an interest in social and economic policy
Enjoy the process of working collaboratively to determine how to capture complex real-world policies within the simulation models
What you’ll experience:

Working in the Nation’s Capital, the epicenter of public policy among a network of policy experts, you can expect to have an impact on policy areas you care about and work with great colleagues who are smart, mission-driven, and collaborative.

You will blend academic rigor with on-the-ground collaboration, be encouraged and supported to fulfill your potential through meaningful work that matters, and enjoy a welcoming workplace free from harassment, discrimination, and intolerance.

In addition, we offer a comprehensive benefits package that includes: medical, dental, disability, and life insurance coverage.

Competitive paid time off allowance, and eligibility to participate in a generous retirement savings plan and reimbursable commuting expense program.

The Urban Institute is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other protected status under applicable law.

The Urban Institute is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Minorities/Women/Disabilities/Veterans.