Junior Research Scientist in in demand-side economics and machine learning


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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment under the dual authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Research.

INRAE is recruiting researchers by open competition and offering permanent position.

It is a major player in research and innovation created on 1st of January 2020. INRAE is a research institute resulting from the merger of INRA and IRSTEA. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France.

The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

Work environment, missions and activities

You will be assigned to the ALISS research unit (Food and Social Sciences, 24 permanent staff including 12 researchers). Food demand modelling and causal inference of the effects of private and public policies are two of the strategic orientations of ALISS.
Your main mission will be to renew the methods used up until now in the unit, using machine learning (ML) methods, to improve understanding of consumer behaviour with the aim of contributing to the evaluation of food policies. Your mission will initially be to produce estimations of demand models using ML methods. These methods, through the reduction of the problem sizes and the selection of relevant explanatory variables, provide innovative and ambitious solutions to deal with the limits of the current empirical approaches to demand analysis. The ALISS research unit works with very large choice sets of consumer products, provided by scanner consumer data.
The first mission, using ML methods, will consist in contributing to the identification of substitutability patterns among food products to improve the understanding of consumer decisions, as well as the impact assessment of public and private interventions. Second, your mission will deal with the estimation of the causal effect of an intervention within the framework of ML, when the intervention counterfactual is not observed. ML methods will be used to predict such counterfactuals in food policy evaluations.
You will strengthen the team that analyses food consumption behaviour. You will benefit from ALISS's work facilities and numerous databases and its strong skills in demand modelling and structural econometrics.
You will also join the Saclay network of the unit in the field of artificial intelligence. You will also benefit from the unit's strong involvement in the DATAIA institute through its “Health and well-being” application domain. The links with the research units of the INRAE division MathNum (Mathematics and Digital Technologies) will also provide support for your future scientific developments. You will also participate in the discussions and developments of the INRAE ODALIM data platform dedicated to food (consumption, purchasing, product composition, manufacturing processes, and the environmental, toxicological and sensory dimensions of food), coordinated by ALISS.

Moving to Palaiseau

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent.
A PhD in economics or related discipline would be highly desirable.
Sound experience in econometrics or machine learning and data science would be highly desirable.
A proven aptitude for data processing and teamwork is recommended.
Candidates should have a good command of English, and long-term international experience would also be desirable. Successful candidates who have not yet acquired this experience abroad will be required to do so after their probationary period (1st year).

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from:

- 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
- parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: training, career advise;
- social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
- holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CR-2021-ECOSOCIO-1
  • Corps: CRCN
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 17

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