Jodi Beggs

Assistant Director of Research; Lecturer

My name is Jodi Beggs, and I am in charge of this Economists Do It With Models thing. I am, in fact, an economist, and my overall goal is to present economics both in the media and in the classroom in a way that is informative, practical and, to the degree that it can be, fun. In a perfect world I would be some sort of odd hybrid of Steve Levitt (see Freakonomics), Demetri Martin (see here) and Jon Stewart (hopefully you don’t need any clarification on that one). Stated another way, I want to trick people into learning stuff and (mildly) entertain them in the process.

My overall aim is to be more of a writer and a teacher than a researcher, since my strength lies not so much in producing research but instead in explaining that research in a manner that makes people actually want to pay attention. (Also, the supply of passionate economic researchers is much larger relative to demand than the supply of passionate economics instructors, so I’m really just responding to market forces.) I am currently a lecturer at Northeastern University, where I teach graduate courses in macroeconomic theory and behavioral economics. In the past, I’ve spent my academic year working for Ec10, which is the introductory undergraduate economics course at Harvard University, and summers teaching midcareer masters degree students at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. I’ve even been known to teach an undergraduate economics tutorial entitled “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll”, which those of you who read my site know is something that’s right up my alley.

In addition to classroom teaching, I write about economics for About.com as well as various other publications, and I am a content reviewer for an online learning company. I collaborated with a number of other academics on a book about the economic lessons in The Simpsons, due out later this year, and I am currently working on a book that explains the basic principles necessary for general economic literacy. In my free time (ha!), I do a bit of public speaking, consulting and tutoring. (Also, if the Daily Show calls and wants me to be its Senior Economic Correspondent, I probably wouldn’t turn down the opportunity.)

My primary areas of interest are behavioral economics, incentives and consumer behavior, but I am also very interested in analyzing the impact of public policies and social programs, especially as far as education is concerned. (Studying incentives is really my true calling, as evidenced by this anecdote.) In addition, I am particularly interested in the economics of the music business and how consumer psychology affects the dynamics of the industry.

I am apparently somewhat good at being a student, though unfortunately that is not a marketable skill in and of itself. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Business Economics at Harvard University, where I currently have a masters degree in Economics. (I swear I will finish my Ph.D. eventually, though, as you’ve probably guessed, it’s not a particularly high priority.) As an undergraduate, I studied computer science and mathematics at MIT. I worked as a management consultant after graduation and also finished a masters degree in Computer Science at MIT, where I wrote a super nerdy thesis about the logistics of the container-shipping industry. Despite having minored in economics, I didn’t go full time in that direction until graduate school. Since then, I have truly developed a passion for the subject and really enjoy the opportunity to share that passion with others, especially those people who don’t generally like economics.