Mateo Velasquez-Giraldo

Mateo Velasquez-Giraldo


Mateo Velasquez-Giraldo is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Economics. He has a B.S. in mathematical engineering and an M.Sc. in Economics from Universidad EAFIT in Medellin, Colombia.

Why I came to Johns Hopkins

I would describe the type of work that students and faculty do in our department as examining questions relevant to policy through the lens of quantitative economic models. That approach resonated with me, and I thought that Hopkins Econ would be an ideal place to learn it. Things like the professors’ research agendas, the course offering, small class sizes, and the structure of the graduate program made me feel that this would be a place where I could grow as a researcher and enjoy the process.

In my research, I combine quantitative models with innovative data sources to improve our understanding of people’s financial decisions and outcomes. In the main chapter of my dissertation, I use survey measurements of people’s macroeconomic expectations to try to explain their saving and portfolio decisions.

In another chapter, that is joint work with Professor Papageorge and other Hopkins graduates, we analyze the relationship between wealth and a novel measure of genetic endowments called the “”EA polygenic score.” My coauthors recently documented a positive association between this measure and wealth. In this work, we try to understand the mechanisms that underly this relationship and how they interact with social policies.

Great mentors and support

Mateo lounging on a chair on campus

What I have found most exciting is that there is a group of professors with very exciting research agendas who are willing to mentor and collaborate with you. Each of them is doing their own interesting thing and, in my experience, they are always happy to teach you about it and let you participate from it. This has been what I have liked the most about the program, that it has a good supply of great mentors!

Starting this fall, I will be an NBER Dissertation Fellow in Behavioral Macroeconomics. It is a program where the National Bureau of Economic Research sponsors your dissertation research for a year and lets you attend their meetings. It is a very competitive fellowship and the department’s support was key to getting it.

An exciting project I have been involved with is econ-ark; a host of open-source tools for quantitative economic modelling headed by Chris Carroll. I’ve been able to contribute to the project throughout my time as a graduate student and my involvement in it has massively enhanced my skillset.