2016 Request for Proposals

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is a non-profit research and grantmaking organization founded in 2013 to accelerate cutting-edge analysis into whether and how structural changes in the U.S. economy, particularly related to economic inequality, affect economic growth.

Our academic grants program is building a portfolio of cutting-edge scholarly research investigating the various channels through which economic inequality may (or may not) impact economic growth and stability, including both direct and indirect pathways. We consider proposals on the consequences of economic inequality across wages, benefits, incomes, wealth, and job quality, as well as group dimensions of inequality including gender, race, and ethnicity. We also consider proposals on the causes of inequality to the extent that understanding these casual pathways will help us identify and understand key channels through which economic inequality may impact growth and stability.

Equitable Growth supports inquiry utilizing many different kinds of evidence, relying on a variety of methodological approaches and cutting across academic disciplines, including economics, political science, sociology, history, social psychology, and others. We are especially interested in projects using new or innovative data sources.

Please see our 2014 and 2015 grantees’ project descriptions for a wide range of examples of the types of work that we fund.

Our 2016 RFP requested proposals in four areas:

Macroeconomics

How, if at all, does economic inequality have an impact on macroeconomic growth and stability, and how does the macroeconomy affect inequality? We are interested in whether a more equal distribution of income across U.S. households would lead to faster or more stable economic growth, and in the relationship between the health of individual household balance sheets and the health of the economy as a whole.

Questions of interest include: How does the composition and distribution of economic resources affect the consumption and savings decisions by individuals and families? To what extent is inequality contributing to the relatively poor performance of the labor market in recent years and to what extent do trends in the labor market explain rising inequality? What are the effects of fiscal and monetary policy on economic inequality? Is there a trade-off between redistribution and productivity? How does the increasing economic importance of the financial sector affect the business cycle in the short term and the distribution of income and wealth in the long term?

Human Capital and the Labor Market

How, if at all, does economic inequality affect the development of human capital, and to what extent do aggregate trends in human capital explain inequality dynamics? Do different levels or kinds of inequality impact the potential for talent to emerge across the income or wealth distribution, and, if so, how?

We are interested in proposals that investigate the myriad mechanisms through which economic inequality might work to alter the development of human potential across the generational arc, including children, young workers, prime-age workers, and older Americans, as well as the policy mechanisms through which better human capital development will alter economic inequality. Examples of specific human capital-related channels include cognitive and non-cognitive skills, educational attainment, and family formation and stability. We are also interested in research that investigates the smooth functioning of the labor market and individuals’ ascent up the job ladder.

Innovation

How, if at all, does economic inequality impact the quantity and quality of innovation and do technological innovations or any related reorganization of work, in turn, have an impact on inequality? Does economic inequality influence the kind of innovation that takes place, and who benefits from that innovation? We are especially interested in proposals that investigate whether and how economic inequality affects the development of the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs.

Questions of interest include: What is the relationship between economic inequality and individuals’ appetites for risk? How does economic inequality affect future innovators’ access to credit? Has economic inequality harmed or helped innovators’ returns on investment, and, if so, how? How do mechanisms to incentivize research and development affect the income and wealth distribution, as well as productivity? Does economic inequality translate into social inequalities that help or hinder the effective dispersion of innovative ideas and products? We are also interested in research on new forms of workplace organization, including the “fissured workplace” and the “gig” or “sharing economy.”

Governance and Institutions

How, if at all, do levels and trends in economic inequality impact the quality of social and political institutions contributing to economic well-being, and, ultimately, economic growth? How does economic inequality impact political outcomes, policy decisions, and governing institutions? Conversely, have features of the political process contributed to rising inequality? How, if at all, do levels and trends in economic inequality impact corporate governance practices, and how do these institutional practices translate into economic outcomes for the economy as a whole?

Topics of particular interest include rent-seeking, anti-competitive behavior, cartelization, regulation, and anti-trust policy. Issues of governance include the role of labor market institutions, such as labor standards, social insurance, corporate human resource policies, and unions. We are also interested in how these existing institutions succeed or fail in the face of new forms of workplace organization.

Who and what we fund

The four topic areas above represent the primary research interests to Equitable Growth. We encourage scholars to interpret these areas broadly. In general, we are willing to consider any exceptional proposal on issues related to inequality and economic growth. For examples of earlier funding in all four areas, please see the project descriptions of our 2014 and 2015 grantees.

Our grant program will support a number of lines of inquiry that examine many different types of evidence and cut across academic fields. We encourage researchers to consider the effects of public policies on both economic growth and inequality and, conversely, to consider the potential policy relevance of new research. We are particularly interested in funding data collection and projects that draw on interdisciplinary research.

If you have questions about your project or its relevance, please email grants@equitablegrowth.org.

Eligibility

Solicitations are open to researchers affiliated with U.S. universities. Equitable Growth has two funding streams, Academic and Doctoral. Academic grants are open to researchers affiliated with a U.S. university, and Doctoral grants are open to graduate students currently enrolled in a doctoral program at a U.S. university. If you are currently a graduate student you may choose to apply for either an Academic or Doctoral grant, depending on the pool in which you’d like to compete.

Equitable Growth is willing to fund a wide range of activities, including researcher salary and benefits, research assistance, data purchase, and costs associated with conducting experiments. Our grants cannot cover indirect overhead.

Funding range

Academic Grants are normally in the range of $25,000 to $100,000 over 12 to 30 months. We also consider proposals for larger grants for exceptional projects. Doctoral grants are funded at the $15,000 level over 12 months.

Equitable Growth is willing to fund a wide range of activities, including researcher salary and benefits, research assistance, data purchase, and costs associated with conducting experiments or related to travel and conferences. Our grants cannot cover indirect overhead.

For more information about the level of funding we provide, please see the descriptions of our 2014 and 2015 grantees.