RESEARCH November 10, 2021

2022 Request for Proposals

OVERVIEW

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth seeks to deepen our understanding of how inequality affects economic growth and stability. To do so, we support research investigating the various channels through which economic inequality, in all its forms, may or may not impact economic growth and stability.

Equitable Growth promotes efforts to increase diversity in the economics profession and across the social sciences. We recognize the importance of diverse perspectives in broadening and deepening research on the topics in this request for proposals.

FUNDING PRIORITIES

Equitable Growth is interested in inequality in all of its forms and its relationship to growth. We also recognize that various forms of inequality interact with each other in ways that deserve more attention.

We support research inquiry using many different types of evidence, relying on a variety of methodological approaches and cutting across academic disciplines.

Preference is given to projects creating new data that can be made publicly available and to studies that engage with relevant literature across disciplines.

Our request for proposals is organized around four channels: Macroeconomics and Inequality, Human Capital & Well-being, Market Structure, and The Labor Market.

MACROECONOMICS AND INEQUALITY

What are the effects of the historic levels of inequality on economic growth and stability, and what policies could lead to more equitable, sustainable, and broadly shared growth? How can macroeconomic research more fully take into account the economic, social, and environmental benefits and costs of addressing the consequences and risks of climate change? Equitable Growth is particularly interested in how racial disparities and discrimination in the economy reduce economic growth and the well-being of historically marginalized groups, as well as the overall economy.

Equitable Growth will consider research proposals looking at the effects of the coronavirus recession and ongoing pandemic if the outcomes of interest will be relevant to future recessions.

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

MONETARY POLICY

Does inequality make existing monetary policy tools less effective? Does it create financial vulnerability among households that affect economic growth, and are some groups more likely to experience persistent scars from recessions than others? What are the distributional effects of monetary policy, and do they affect large-, medium-, and small-sized firms or different demographic groups differently?

MACRO-FINANCE

What is the long-run impact of high inequality on financial markets and asset prices? How should fiscal and monetary policies take into account the macro-finance linkages that result from inequality? Can certain macro policies worsen wealth inequality through their impact on financial markets? What is the relationship between wealth accumulation and the intergenerational transfer of wealth on intra- and intergenerational economic mobility?

FISCAL POLICY

Is inequality challenging the effectiveness of political institutions and fiscal policy tools? What are the distributional effects of fiscal policy and do they differ across different demographic groups? What are the implications of increased income and wealth inequality for public policy, and how do public policies affect these relationships? Would more automatic stabilizers improve the toolkit of policies to fight recessions?

POLITICAL ECONOMY

How have the crises that unfolded last year in the United States, such as the pandemic, the coronavirus recession, or police-involved killings of Black Americans, quantifiably influenced the direction of economic policy-making during the recovery? How is this similar or different to previous American crises’ impact on economic policymaking? What are the political forces that block pro-equality reform?

HUMAN CAPITAL AND WELL-BEING

How does economic inequality affect the development of human capital, and what are the impacts on the health and stability of the macroeconomy? To what extent can the institutions that support the development of human capital mitigate inequality’s potential effects and enhance well-being and current and future economic productivity? Through what channels do these effects occur? How does structural racism, including contact with the criminal legal system, impede the development and deployment of human capital?

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT

How does inequality affect the development of human capital across gender, race, ethnicity, and place, as well as across income, earnings, or wealth distributions? What policies may be effective in addressing the impacts of structural racism on the development of human capital? How are climate change and other environmental factors affecting human capital development, and are there differences across groups? What are the barriers and facilitators to high quality child care and early education—including but not limited to home-based and informal care and related programs—in supporting children’s long-term human capital development and the well-being of children, workers, and families, and are there differences across groups?

HUMAN CAPITAL DEPLOYMENT

What role do public policies—such as labor market regulations, work support policies and income support policies—play in the development of children’s human capital and economic well-being, in individual and family well-being, labor force participation, and consumption? What policies may be effective in combating discrimination and other structural impediments to the deployment of human capital? How does the availability of affordable child care affect access to work for workers with children and the child care workforce?

INTERGENERATIONAL MOBILITY

What policies or structures, including structural racism and the criminal legal system, limit intergenerational mobility and through which mechanisms? What public policies may be effective in helping individuals and households build wealth, and in supporting upward mobility, particularly out of poverty? Are current policies or structures impeding wealth building and upward mobility? How are climate change and other environmental factors affecting intergenerational mobility? What characteristics of neighborhoods have a causal effect on the development of human capital and on intergenerational mobility? Which place-based programs or interventions are most effective in promoting economic mobility, and for whom? Equitable Growth is interested in both contemporary and historical approaches to these questions.

THE LABOR MARKET

How does inequality affect the labor market? How does the labor market and workplace organization affect whether growth is broadly shared? What are the labor market impacts on intergenerational mobility, and have changes in employer-employee relationships and new types of work arrangements affected the opportunity for job advancement and mobility? How prevalent is discrimination in the labor market, and what are its effects? What role does technology play in the organization of and returns to work? How is climate change affecting work, wages, and worker well-being?

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

POWER IN LABOR MARKETS

What is the relative bargaining power of workers versus employers, what influences that balance, and how does it affect pay levels, job quality, and economic growth? Do structural barriers, including structural racism and gender discrimination, or social norms affect labor market dynamics? What role do public policies, unions, and other forms of workplace organization play in determining labor market power? What effect do new technologies and new types of work arrangements have on who has power and how that power is exerted?

WORKPLACE ORGANIZATION

How are labor market institutions succeeding or failing in the face of new forms of workplace organization, including those driven by the adoption of new technologies? How does enforcement of existing labor laws affect outcomes? How are different forms of automation and other technologies measured and defined, now and over time, and what are the implications for understanding their effects on workers, wages, and labor markets?  Do those effects differ for different demographic groups or protected classes? Equitable Growth is interested in both contemporary and historical approaches to these questions.

RETURNS TO WORK

What factors affect how economywide growth is or is not shared between different types of workers? What role do structural racism and gender discrimination play, and what policies may be effective in decreasing the racial and gender wage gaps? How does the criminal legal system interact with the labor market to affect access and returns to work? To what degree do aggregate productivity changes pass through to individuals and via which mechanisms? How is inequality shaping the relationship between nonmarket and market work and individuals’ decisions on how to divide their time between the two?

MARKET STRUCTURE

What is the role of market structure in determining economic growth and its distribution? What is the relationship between inequality, market power, and economic growth? How competitive are markets in the U.S. economy, and is that changing? What conduct is likely or unlikely to harm competition and how? Equitable Growth is interested in research from an aggregate perspective, which has been common in the macroeconomic and labor literatures, as well as industry- or market-specific analysis that has been the focus of industrial organization literatures.

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

EXISTENCE AND CAUSES OF MARKET POWER

Is there increased market power in the economy, and if so, what are its causes? Areas of interest include studies of mergers, potential competition, and specific conduct. Is anticompetitive activity more common in some industries than others?

CONSEQUENCES OF MARKET POWER

What are the effects of market power on product markets, labor markets, and small business, including new business formation, firm growth, business investment, productivity, and inequality? How have technological developments affected competition? How does market concentration affect the development or deployment of new technologies to mitigate climate change and support sustainable economic growth? Does market power disproportionately affect historically marginalized groups? How do racial and other inequalities affect competition?

EFFECTIVENESS OF POLICY TOOLS

Equitable Growth is particularly interested in empirical work that examines the effectiveness of policies to promote competition, including, but not limited to, the state of antitrust enforcement, regulatory approaches, new foundations for antitrust actions that do not necessarily rely on prices, and comparisons of the U.S. antitrust enforcement regime with other models. Equitable Growth also is interested in the differential effect of policies on different sized firms, particularly small business and minority-owned business, and the ways in which policies are shaping markets.

WHAT WE FUND

ACADEMIC GRANTS

Academic grants are open to researchers affiliated with a U.S. university. The affiliated university must administer the grant.

Academic grants are typically in the $25,000 to $100,000 range over 1 to 3 years. We frequently partner with other foundations to support projects jointly or to share proposals that are not a fit for our grant program, but which may be of interest to other funders.

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 participating in professional conferences. Our grants cannot cover indirect overhead.

Visit the Academic grants section of our website to learn more about Academic grants, including eligibility, allowable costs, and evaluation criteria.

DOCTORAL/POSTDOCTORAL GRANTS

Doctoral/postdoctoral grants are open to graduate students currently enrolled in a doctoral program at a U.S. university and to recent Ph.D. graduates currently in a postdoctoral position at a U.S. university. If you are currently a graduate student or in a postdoctoral position, you may choose to apply for either an academic or doctoral/postdoctoral grant, depending on the pool in which you’d like to compete.

International students at U.S. universities are eligible to apply, though if awarded the grant would likely need to be administered through the university. International students are advised to communicate their intention to apply with their institution to ensure adherence to institutional protocol if funded.

Doctoral/postdoctoral grants are funded at $15,000 over 1 year.

Funding can be used to cover the costs associated with conducting research, such as participating in professional conferences, research assistance, or data purchase. Funding can also be used as stipend support. Our grants cannot cover indirect overhead.

Visit the doctoral/postdoctoral grants section of our website to learn more about doctoral/postdoctoral grants, including eligibility, allowable costs, and evaluation criteria.

DISSERTATION SCHOLARS PROGRAM

Equitable Growth is building a network of scholars doing cutting-edge research on inequality and growth. Our Dissertation Scholars program is typically in-resident, though is currently operating virtually. The program provides Ph.D. candidates with financial and professional support to pursue their own research and to gain familiarity with current policy discussions and the policy process.

The position is open to predissertation scholars who are currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at a U.S. university and whose research aligns with Equitable Growth’s funding priorities. Dissertation scholars are given an annualized $50,000 stipend and professional support and are expected to support Equitable Growth’s grant program. Dissertation scholars are given office space although Equitable Growth is currently operating remotely due to the pandemic.

Scheduling is flexible to permit for travel to home institutions, as well as academic conferences. Tenure is for one academic year.

Applicants not selected for the Dissertation Scholar Program will automatically be considered for a Doctoral/Postdoctoral grant.

Visit the Dissertation Scholars program section of our website to learn more about the program, including eligibility, the selection process, and evaluation criteria.

HOW TO APPLY

ACADEMIC GRANTS

To apply for an academic grant, submit a letter of inquiry and abbreviated curriculum vitae (max five pages) using the online submission form.

Letters of inquiry are short descriptions of a research project. They should be approximately two pages (about 1,000 words to 1,500 words) in length. Letters of inquiry that are more than 1,500 words will not be considered. While we do not want to be overly prescriptive, the word limit is designed to encourage concision and clarity.

Letters of inquiry must include:

  • Problem addressed by the research
  • Engagement with and expected contribution to the literature
  • Methodological approach, including data sources and research design
  • Timeline for completion

We encourage applicants to consider policy implications. Development of new data sources is also of interest.

If tables, graphs, or other images are helpful in explaining your project, they can be included. While they will not count against the word limit, we encourage you to limit the use of images to one or two.

Status of data access must also be included.

A preliminary budget is also required and should be submitted as a brief narrative (approximately 150 words). Budget narratives are submitted as part of the application form and do not have to be included in the letter of inquiry. At this stage, we are interested in the total expected cost of the project and a general breakdown of those costs (such as salary, research assistance, costs associated with data collection, travel, or conference fees). If applicable, please include a brief description of other secured or anticipated funding sources for the proposed work. A detailed project budget will be required for applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal.

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EST on January 26, 2022.

Visit the Academic grants section of our website to learn more about Academic grants, including eligibility, allowable costs, and evaluation criteria.

DOCTORAL/POSTDOCTORAL GRANTS

To apply for a doctoral/postdoctoral grant, submit a proposal and curriculum vitae using the online submission form.

Doctoral/postdoctoral proposals should be approximately six single-spaced pages with standard font and margins. Proposals over seven pages will not be considered. While we do not want to be overly prescriptive, the page limit is designed to encourage concision and clarity.

Proposals should address the following:

  • Problem or question your research seeks to address
  • How it relates to Equitable Growth’s mission
  • Engagement with the relevant literature
  • Anticipated contribution to the literature
  • Detailed methodological approach, including data sources and research design
  • Potential policy implications
  • Timeline for completion
  • Budget narrative

The budget narrative should briefly describe direct costs such as data purchase or research assistance. If funding will be used for support only, simply state that.

If tables, graphs, or other images are helpful in explaining your project, they can be included either in the body of the proposal or as an appendix. While they will not count against the page limit, we encourage you to limit the use of images to one or two.

Status of data access must be included.

A bibliography is not required but can be included as an appendix. It will not count against the page limit.

Doctoral/postdoctoral applicants do not need to submit a letter of inquiry. Professional references are also not required.

Doctoral/postdoctoral proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 21, 2022.

Visit the doctoral/postdoctoral grants section of our website to learn more about doctoral/postdoctoral grants, including eligibility, allowable costs, and evaluation criteria.

DISSERTATION SCHOLARS PROGRAM

To apply to the Dissertation Scholars Program, submit a proposal, statement of purpose, and curriculum vitae using the online submission form.

In addition, application to the program requires two academic letters of recommendation, preferably from your chair and an advisor.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted via email to grants@equitablegrowth.org. All other application materials will be uploaded through the online application form.

The proposal should follow the requirements and guidelines for Doctoral/postdoctoral proposals.

The statement of purpose should be approximately two pages and should describe:

  • Your motivating research questions
  • The direction you anticipate your research agenda taking, and how that relates to Equitable Growth’s mission
  • How you hope to spend your time with Equitable Growth and how that will help further your career/research

Applicants selected to move forward in the Dissertation Scholar review process will be asked to interview with Equitable Growth in April 2021. Interviews consist of a research presentation and about three small group interviews with select staff. They are typically conducted over one day. Presentations and interviews will be done virtually. Selection decisions will be announced in late April/early May 2021.

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EST on January 26, 2022.

Visit the Dissertation Scholars program section of our website to learn more about the program, including eligibility, the selection process, and evaluation criteria.

DEADLINES

Academic letters of inquiry are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on January 26, 2022.

If invited, full proposals will be due by 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 9, 2022.

Dissertation Scholar applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on January 26, 2022.

Doctoral/postdoctoral proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 21, 2022.

Funding decisions will be announced by mid-July 2022. We anticipate that funds will be distributed in early fall 2022, though the timing of disbursement depends in part on the particulars of the project and the researcher’s home institution.

THE REVIEW PROCESS

Letters of inquiry and full proposals for academic grants are reviewed by staff, external peer reviewers, and members of our Steering Committee.

Proposals for doctoral/postdoctoral grants and the Dissertation Scholars Program are reviewed by our staff and members of our Steering Committee.

All funding is approved by our Steering Committee.

For more information on evaluation criteria, visit the Academic grants, Doctoral/Postdoctoral grants, or Dissertations Scholars Program sections of our website.

FEEDBACK PRIOR TO SUBMISSION

Equitable Growth cannot provide feedback on a written proposal or Letter of Inquiry prior to the application deadline, but staff are available to meet with applicants to discuss questions they may have. Questions may include, but are not limited to, how to apply, budget guidelines, proposal structure, eligibility, and a project’s relevance to Equitable Growth’s mission and funding priorities.

Equitable Growth is hosting informational webinars which are opportunities to learn more about our funding priorities, how to apply, and tips for a successful application.

The webinar for scholars interested in applying for an academic grant is on Wednesday, December 8 from 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST. Register here.

The webinar for graduate students interested in applying for a doctoral/postdoctoral grant or the Dissertation Scholars program is on Wednesday, December 8 from 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. EST. Register here.

Equitable Growth staff are also available to meet with interested applicants. Please complete this form if you would like to schedule a time with our staff regarding any questions you may have about submitting an application. You will receive an email from grants@equitablegrowth.org to schedule a 15-30 minute Zoom call with Equitable Growth staff best positioned to answer your question(s).

SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL

Submit your proposal by completing the online application form.

If you have questions or are having trouble with the online form, please email grants@equitablegrowth.org or call 202-276-3368.

If you are having trouble with the online form and it is within hours of the deadline, you may email your application materials as an attachment to grants@equitablegrowth.org

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