Student Spotlight—Jack Diao MPA ’22

Nov 13 2021
Jack Diao MPA '22

The unique feature that has always drawn me is the ability to have intimate access and direct access to top notch faculty, to learn with them in small classes...



My name is Jack Diao, second-year MPA and an aspiring econometrician. Coming from a background in accounting, public finance, and infrastructure development, Field IV was a natural fit. From its influential alumni network in all major research organizations to its focus on developing quantitative analysis skills, to the events hosted by the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance, this field offers fantastic opportunities leading to careers both in academia and as a practitioner, as well as helpful contacts in NGOs and multilateral institutions.

Regardless of your career goals or previous immersion in economics, I have no doubt that there is a place in this stream for you. Through my own experience, it has gifted me with three lasting lessons:

1. Evidence Speaks for Itself.

Despite the outstanding economics faculty members I’ve met at SPIA and their numerous achievements, I’ve found that my professors continue to approach class material and research questions with great humility; often seeking feedback from students and paying attention to our areas of interest and growth. However, what really impresses me is that they remain acutely aware of their own limitations and knowledge gaps, and are committed to instilling in us a rigorous reliance on empirical evidence to justify our position: superseding belief, ideology, and rhetoric.

2. The Art of Trade-offs.

Truth defies simplicity, and there’s never enough of any resource to satisfy everyone’s needs! You’ll come across many fascinating (and contentious) development issues—land reforms, growth distribution, conditional cash transfers, negative income taxes—none of them will deliver desired outcomes without carefully-designed complementary policies. Rather than broad, sweeping changes, our exciting challenge often lies in finding the best compromises possible in a sea of incremental trade-offs.

3. What We Do Here Matters.

As we close out 2021, good economic and financial policies will be crucial to our recovery in the long run. Public money not only funds our scientific research and education, but also allows ordinary people in need to receive—more needed than ever—skill training and social protection, so that all may have the opportunity to live productive lives in dignity.

One only has to look at the S&P 500’s or Berkshire Hathaway's long-term growth and returns to know that savings and efficiency gains will have exponential impact compounded over time, yielding billions of dollars to invest in worthy causes, and leaving future generations with steadfast guiding economic principles and a full treasury.