Pamela Giustinelli's Wonders and Jewels
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Pamela Giustinelli's Wonders and Jewels

THE NEW ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IS A MICROECONOMETRICIAN WHO COLLECTS DATA IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE WORLD WORKS. BUT IN HER LIFE THERE IS ROOM ALSO FOR PICASSO AND PEANUTS

Since her return to Bocconi, people have been asking her how does it feel to be back. “I don’t think about it this way”, says Pamela Giustinelli, who obtained a Master in Economics from Bocconi in 2004 and is now Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics. “I am here because Bocconi is a top-rated institution in the world with the determination and the capacity to rise even further”. Giustinelli has been working for thirteen years in the US. Her last assignment was at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, a cross-disciplinary organization where economists, sociologists, psychologists, statisticians, survey methodologists, and epidemiologists work together to generate data and make them available to the scientific community. “After this full immersion in multidisciplinarity, I was ready for a change”. Giustinelli teaches Microeconometrics to PhD students. She is affiliated with LEAP and IGIER.
 
Pamela Giustinelli still remembers what her professor of philosophy told her at the end of the last high school year. She was a top student in her class, but with no obvious knack for any specific discipline. He said: “I hope you can find your way and choose between hard and soft sciences”. Giustinelli chose Economics. “I like to think that by specializing in Economics I found a way to combine the rigor of quantitative disciplines and my interest for topics relevant across the board in the social sciences”. After graduating from the University of Verona and earning a Master in Economics from Bocconi University, she enrolled for a PhD in Economics at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “A research or ‘philosophy’ statement was required as part of the application process. In that statement, I emphasized how economic research cannot prosper and advance without a strong interplay between theory and data”.
 
She ended up making a career out of that idea, collecting data motivated by specific theories and then using the data to inform modeling. She defines herself an applied microeconometrician with a passion for studying how individuals and families make economic decisions in conditions of limited information and of uncertainty. “Actually, there is an interesting parallelism between microeconometricians like me, who try to understand how the world works, and normal people who live in an increasingly complex and uncertain world and must make sense of it in order to make important decisions, such as school choices, investment in healthcare, electoral voting, retirement. We all make inferences and must cope with ambiguity”.
 
A section of her Google personal page is called “Wonders and Jewels”. It is an incomplete list of hidden gems, from Picasso’s oil on canvas Two Girls Reading, at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, to The Italian Americans, a PBS documentary on waves of immigrations from our country to the US. Every page is illustrated with a Peanuts comic strip, such as the one where Charlie Brown says it is a good thing that people have different opinions and Lucy replies: “Why? If everyone agreed with me, they’d all be right”. “I have shown it to my students because it expresses a fundamental concept in microeconometrics: heterogeneity”.

by Claudio Todesco

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