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To encourage research on consumer and household finance, with particular attention to the financial well-being of low- and moderate-income households, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the generous support of the Institute of Consumer Money Management, is sponsoring two dissertation fellowships for doctoral students in economics and finance. Each fellowship will be awarded for a one-year period, with a potential second-year renewal available subject to satisfactory research progress and funding availability.

Fellowship recipients are expected to pursue academic research that is primarily related to consumer finance in the United States. Areas of inquiry may include, but are not limited to, saving and borrowing behavior, asset allocation, retirement saving, homeownership and home equity accumulation, payday loans, credit card debt, other forms of borrowing, financial challenges facing low- and moderate-income households, links between consumer finance and income and wealth inequality, financial literacy, and the impact of regulatory policy on consumer financial decisions. 

Two fellowships will be awarded for the academic year 2022-2023. Each will provide a stipend of $35,000, up to $8,000 of tuition support, and a research fund of $5,000 that may be used to support the costs of data acquisition and travel to research meetings. Fellows may choose to reduce their stipend to fund a larger data purchase or other research support. Awards will be announced in January, 2022. Fellows will be expected to attend and participate in the 2023 NBER Summer Institute workshop on Household Finance, which will be held in Cambridge, Massachusetts in late July. Fellows will be expected, to the extent possible, to make data collected for their research publicly available.

To be eligible for fellowship support, an applicant must be enrolled as a full-time Ph.D. student at a university in the U.S. or Canada, and must have advanced to dissertation candidacy status by the start of the fellowship period. Fellows must attest that their research is their primary activity for the fellowship year, and receive prior approval for any work as a research assistant or teaching assistant that will be carried out during the fellowship year. Applications from women, members of groups that have been historically under-represented in economics and finance, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are particularly welcome.

Applicants should upload a short research proposal consisting of no more than five pages of text, two pages of supplemental tables and graphs, and one page of references, as well as a C.V., to:

The proposal should specify research papers that are expected to be finished at the end of the fellowship year. In addition, applicants should ask their dissertation supervisor to upload a letter of recommendation to the same website. All components of the application must be received by 11:59 pm (EST) on Thursday, December 9, 2021. Applicants are responsible for verifying that their letter of recommendation has been sent by the deadline. Applications that are not complete, including the letter of recommendation, on December 9 will not be considered for support.

Fellowships will be awarded based on the recommendations of a selection panel made up of John Beshears (Harvard Business School), Benjamin Keys (University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School), Camelia Kuhnen (University of North Carolina – Kenan/Flagler School), and James Poterba (MIT). The panel will assess each applicant’s potential to make an important contribution to research on consumer finance, and will strive to recruit a diverse group of award recipients.

By May 1, 2023, fellows will be expected to provide the selection committee with a copy of at least one research paper on consumer finance, and to present a brief seminar on their findings. For fellows who do not complete their dissertations during the first year of support, subject to availability of continuing funding, the selection committee will determine whether to award a second year of fellowship support, pro-rated until the dissertation is completed.