Alumni Spotlight: Luis E. Gonzales-Carrasco
At the BIP Lab, our main goal is to understand parental decision-making. If information is power, we believe that learning about someone else’s personal experience can be particularly helpful when making decisions for your career, too. That’s why we wanted to introduce a new interview series, “Alumni Spotlight,” where we sit down with former students to learn what drives them, what they liked about working at the BIP lab, and where they are now.
This time we chatted with Bolivian-born former BIP Lab alumnus, Luis E. Gonzales-Carrasco. He’s a big proponent of the power of a positive attitude, an avid swimmer, and works for the Ministry of Finance in Chile.
BIP Lab: What drew you to work at the BIP Lab?
Gonzales-Carrasco: I had two main motivations that drew me to work at BIP Lab. First, a curiosity about this branch of economic literature that mixes some aspects of psychology with economic rationality. I have a macroeconomics background where the behavior of the consumer is rational, there is no space for doubt. However, looking at evidence in real life I got interested in “animal spirits” and dug into the possibility of nudging as a way of public policy. I still have many questions about it all, but working in the BIP Lab was a great opportunity to be in the field conducting this new type of research that was so useful for me.
My second reason is named Sara, my daughter. She is now two and a half, and this line of work has taught me how to be a better father to her. Working on parenting interventions like MPACT, learning about early childhood investments, and increasing the skills of children was great motivation for me every day. Being at the BIP Lab alleviated the pain I was feeling when I was studying and working alone in Chicago, while my daughter and my wife were back in Chile.
BIP Lab: What is one of your favorite memories of the BIP Lab?
Gonzales-Carrasco: I have so many good memories from my time at BIP Lab. One was at a center in Chicago. When I arrived, the parents were busy, dropping their children off and heading to their jobs. However, I realized that all of them looked at me wondering what this smiling guy was trying to say, and then a grandmother approached me and said, “thank you for your positive attitude.” My manager at that time was Paula Rusca, and she gave me reason to continue every day, trying to bring a good attitude to my work everywhere.
BIP Lab: What are you doing now?
Gonzales-Carrasco: After I graduated from the University of Chicago with an MPP, I got an offer from the Ministry of Finance back in my residence country, Chile. Nowadays, I am the head of the research division at the Ministry of Finance, working on different research projects in macroeconomics, labor, pensions systems, and environment. Today, my studies have helped me design public policy in Chile with evidence-based information.
BIP Lab: How did you become interested in your field?
Gonzales-Carrasco: My main field is macroeconomics, energy and environmental policy. I became interested in this field because of the potential consequences of climate change in the economy. Working with one of the most important questions in economy about the growth of economies, I started to get interested in the consequences of climate change on economic growth.
BIP Lab: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Gonzales-Carrasco: During a previous job in the government in Chile, I promoted the approval of the National Green Growth Strategy of Chile. This document was presented officially to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and is implemented in Chile today.
BIP Lab: What advice would you give to other students who aspire to follow a similar career path?
Gonzales-Carrasco: Never give up. You just need to keep smiling and maintain a positive attitude. Try to read again and again what you are studying, and practice your skills—both the quantitative and qualitative ones. These skills are a fundamental complement in the labor market and life.
BIP Lab: What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
Gonzales-Carrasco: I love trekking and swimming. Five months after leaving Hyde Park in Chicago, I really miss my walks around Lake Michigan and going to Ratner swimming pool in the morning. In Chile, I am also trying to practice a lot of sports, especially with my daughter, there are amazing places and roads for trekking. But you know, like Frank Sinatra once sang, “Chicago is my kind of town.”
To learn more about Luis, visit his website at www.lugoca.net