Joseph Altonji ’75 went to graduate school partly because he was inspired by research he did with professors while an undergraduate in New Haven.

Now he wants to give other undergraduates the same opportunity.

The Economics Department recently filled two openings, hiring Altonji as a senior professor and Galina Hale as a junior professor. Both started this fall.

“I am thrilled to be back here,” Altonji said in an e-mail. “Yale has a great tradition in economics, and it is wonderful to have the chance to contribute to it.”

“We are happy to have attracted two new faculty members, in fields where the department has urgent teaching needs,” Economics Chairman David Pearce said in an e-mail. “Both Altonji and Hale will be a boon for students and exciting colleagues for out faculty. We are very fortunate to have them at Yale.”

Pearce said Altonji is a “major figure” in labor economics.

“Beyond his vital interests in public policy issues involving education, race and inequality, Professor Altonji is noted for his work in applied econometrics,” Pearce said.

Altonji, who is coming from Northwestern University, has also taught at Princeton and Columbia universities.

He said his goals include helping to expand the Ph.D. program in his area of specialty and to “strengthen course offerings in quantitative methods at the undergraduate level and provide research opportunities for undergraduates by involving them in my research projects.”

Hale recently earned her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and also has teaching experience in graduate macroeconomics instruction in Russia, Pearce said.

“She is an expert in international debt and exchange rate fluctuations,” Pearce said. “This field is one in which there is a lot of student interest and in which we were previously under-represented.”

Hale said she is currently teaching graduate international finance.

“I would like to be able to teach both graduate [students] and undergraduates the latest in international finance in macroeconomics,” she said.

Pearce said he anticipates that Hale will offer a course in open economy macroeconomics to undergraduates next year. He also said he was delighted that Altonji accepted his invitation to teach the new “Applied Econometrics” course next semester.

“The main objective of the new course is to bridge the gap between the theory of econometric methods and the practice of econometrics — to teach students how to use quantitative methods to answer important questions,” Altonji said. “This is not easy to do.”

In addition to the new econometrics course, the economics department is offering several new courses this year including “Macroeconomic History and Policy,” “Economic History of Latin America” and “Economics and Psychology” as well as new senior seminars.