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Ngina Chiteji

Economics Professor Committed to Educating Youth on Social Policy

Ngina Chiteji is an Associate Professor of Economics at New York University’s Gallatin School and an associated faculty member of the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Her areas of interest include monetary economics, macroeconomic policy, family economics, the distribution of household wealth, retirement saving and pensions. Much of her research on issues related to wealth accumulation in a general sense, and retirement saving more specifically, align with the Academy’s focus on Social Security and old-age security. 

Chiteji became interested in economics as a high school student when she discovered that the discipline analyzes how societies make decisions about what to produce and how to distribute output. After majoring in economics in college and obtaining a Ph.D in the subject, her interest further developed during a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan’s poverty research and training program after graduate school, where she worked with Dr. Sheldon Danziger, a long time Academy member. The postdoctoral fellowship launched Chiteji’s career in social inequality and got her thinking about ways that economics can be used to inform public policymaking. 

“I have followed Ngina Chiteji’s career trajectory since she started as a postdoctoral fellow at the poverty center at the University of Michigan more than 15 years ago,” said Sheldon Danziger, President of the Russell Sage Foundation. “She has published an important set of papers on the black-white wealth gap and its implications for family and retirement behaviors. I am very pleased that she is bringing her expertise to the Academy.”

Chiteji is a former chair of the American Economic Association's Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession, which is tasked with overseeing programs that are designed to get more students of color interested in economics and in helping and mentoring them as they pursue graduate studies in economics. This appointment allowed Chiteji to pursue her personal passion: encouraging the next generation to study economics and ensuring that young people understand the value of our nation's social insurance programs and about how they really work.  Chiteji credits her desire to educate youths as part of the reason she has remained in academia, despite her interest in policy.

“I think that teaching young people is important because there is so much misinformation floating around in the world,” said Chiteji. “Regardless of a student's political affiliation, we need them to have accurate information about how social insurance works and a good understanding of the history of the programs (why society thought they were needed when they were founded), so that the students can make informed choices when they vote or if they decide to go into politics themselves.”

Chiteji’s research has been published in several scholarly journals, including Labor Economics, the Journal of Family Issues, and the Journal of International Development. In January of this year at the Academy’s 28th annual conference on Disparate Income, Wealth and Opportunity: Implications for Social Insurance, Chiteji presented a review of the data on economic disparities. Chiteji is also a former analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, a visiting scholar at the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland, and a fellow at the Poverty Research and Training Program at the University of Michigan. Before joining NYU, Chiteji was a Professor at Skidmore College from 2000-2014.  She is also a former chair of the American Economic Association's Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession. She earned her Ph.D in economics from the University of North Carolina and holds a BA from Brown University.

A member of the Academy since 2011, Chiteji ran her first marathon in 10th grade and enjoys the outdoors. As a child, she lived in Tanzania for three years.