Noam Yuchtman

Assistant Professor of Economics at the Haas School of Business

Noam Yuchtman is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Haas School of Business. His research spans the political and economic trade-offs of higher education; the impact of election pressures on judges’ sentencing decisions; and new strategies to measure ideological fervor.

Yuchtman and his colleagues have documented how the content of higher education can either spur or block economic dynamism. On the one hand, the expansion of universities in medieval Europe sparked a re-discovery of Roman law that created a useful foundation for modern commerce. By contrast, Chinese elites in the late 19th Century spurned Western science education in favor of “teaching to the test” on Confucian principles.

Yuchtman and his colleagues have documented how modern Chinese elites are still torn over the political and economic goals of education. They find that the emphasis in recent decades on developing business and technology leaders, while arguably good for economic growth, has significantly slowed social mobility. In another paper, Yuchtman and colleagues have documented the Chinese government’s success at inculcating political values through changes in the nation’s high school curriculum.

Yuchtman is also exploring novel methods for measuring ideological beliefs that people may refuse to disclose. In Pakistan, Yuchtman and his colleagues used a back-door approach to gauge anti-American fervor in young Pakistani men. Instead of asking the men directly, the researchers asked participants to take an unrelated survey and offered a “bonus” of 100 rupees — roughly one-fifth of a day’s wages — if they anonymously checked a box that expressed “gratitude” to the U.S. government. About one-quarter of the men turned down the money.

In a very different attempt to gauge unspoken political views, Yuchtman co-authored a study of election-season pressures on criminal sentencing decisions by judges in Washington state. The study found that sentences became about 10 percent longer as election day drew near, and that judges at election time were 50 percent more likely to exceed the standard sentencing guidelines.

Noam Yuchtman earned a BA in economics at Williams College in 2005 and Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University in 2010. He joined the Haas School of Business in 2010. He is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and has received numerous fellowships and awards, including the 2013 Earl Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching.