NYU Shanghai’s Steven Lehrer Joins Thousand Talents

May 13 2016
Written by NYU Shanghai

NYU Shanghai’s Associate Professor of Economics, Steven Lehrer was selected to join the Shanghai municipal government's Thousand Talents program.  As a recipient, he is immediately eligible for research funding from both the Shanghai and Pudong government. To boot, two articles of his are being published in Nature and in Journal of Labor Economics.

“The program is highly selective, so it is a true honor. I am not aware of any other academic economists invited to this program in the past, so I am truly fortunate. I hope as NYU Shanghai grows, we will add more economists not just to our faculty but also to this program,” said Lehrer.

As an economist whose research is in empirical microeconomics and experimental economics, Lehrer is interested in understanding how human capital outcomes such as education and health develop across the lifecycle.  His two recent publications respectively explore the role of genetic factors in explaining educational attainment and whether universal childcare has the potential of improving subsequent education outcomes.

With numerous coauthors, Lehrer has helped identify 74 genes that partially determine how far someone gets in school, depending on which variant of those genes a person possesses. However, the effects are quite small, particularly in comparison to changing environmental influences.  The publication of “Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment,” can be read here in Nature.


His article “Targeted or Universal Coverage? Assessing Heterogeneity in the Effects of Universal Childcare,” forthcoming at the Journal of Labor Economics (and downloadable here) “uncovers substantial policy relevant heterogeneity in the estimated effect of access to subsidized child care across two developmental score distributions for children from two-parent families.”

Lehrer’s future plans include a more formal investigation of gene-environmental interactions as well as continuing other work that develops methods to analyze big data consistent with the new Data Science major.

“I am excited to hopefully have NYU Shanghai students participate in portions of my research programs in the coming years and the funds from this award will make that possible,” Lehrer said.

The Shanghai Thousand Talents program runs concurrent with the central government's Thousand Talents program which began in 2008 as a way of attracting internationally successful talents in a variety of fields to China. On average, 150 highly skilled scientists and entrepreneurs are invited annually.