David Figlio

David Figlio

Director and Faculty Fellow , Institute for Policy Research
Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy
Professor, Human Development and Social Policy


David Figlio is the Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy, Director of the Institute for Policy Research, and Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Economics (by courtesy) at Northwestern University, as well as Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and Associate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his PhD in Economics in 1995 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His research on education and social policy, including influential work on school accountability, standards, welfare policy, and policy design, has been published in numerous leading journals including the American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Law and Economics and Journal of Human Resources. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropic Society, Smith Richardson Foundation and Spencer Foundation. He is a member of the Executive Board of the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research and serves as co-editor of the Journal of Human Resources and associate editor of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Journal of Urban Economics, and Education Finance and Policy.  He has served on numerous national education task forces and panels, and has advised several U.S. states and nations on five continents on the design, implementation and evaluation of education policy.

David Figlio's currently funded research involves evaluating the Florida Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the largest school voucher program in the United States; conducting a large-scale study of school accountability in Florida, involving collecting survey data on a census of public school principals in the state; and following children from birth through their school career to study key questions regarding early childhood policy and inequality. 

Prior to joining the Northwestern faculty in 2008, David Figlio taught at the University of Florida, where he was the Knight-Ridder Professor of Economics, from 1998-2008 and the University of Oregon from 1995-1998.

Curriculum Vitae

Adobe Acrobat PDF View David Figlio's CV.



Year Degree Institution
1995 PhD, Economics University of Wisconsin-Madison
1992 MS, Economics University of Wisconsin-Madison
1991 BS, Business Economics and Public Policy George Washington University

Selected Publications

Figlio, D., with D. Fletcher (Working Paper/In Press/Under Review). Suburbanization, demographic change, and the consequences for school finance. Journal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D., with M. Rush and L. Yin (Working Paper/In Press/Under Review). Is it live or is it Internet? Experimental estimates of the effects of online instruction on student learning. Journal of Labor Economics.

Figlio, D., with L. Feng, J. Hannaway, T. Sass, and Z. Xu (Working Paper/In Press/Under Review). Value-added of teachers in high-poverty and lower poverty schools. Journal of Urban Economics.

Figlio, D., with D. Goldhaber, J. Hannaway, and C. Rouse (Working Paper/In Press/Under Review). Feeling the Florida heat? How low-performing schools respond to voucher and accountability pressure. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Figlio, D., with J. Ludwig (2012). Sex, drugs, and Catholic schools: Private schooling and non-market adolescent behaviors. German Economic Review 13(4): 385-414.

Figlio, D., with C. Hart (2011). Does competition improve public schools?. Education Next 11(1).

Figlio, D., with L. Kenny (2010). Public sector performance measurement and stakeholder support. Journal of Public Economics 93(9-1): 1069-77.

Figlio, D., with C. Hart and M. Metzger (2010). Who uses a means-tested scholarship, and what do they choose?. Economics of Education Review 29(2): 301-17.

Figlio, D., Hamersma, S., and Roth, J. (2008). “Does Pre-Natal WIC Participation Improve Birth Outcomes? New Evidence from Florida” . Journal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D., and Roth, J. (2008). “The Effects of Pre-kindergarten Participation on Behavioral Outcomes” in Gruber, J., An Economics Perspective on the Problems of Disadvantaged Youth University of Chicago Press.

Figlio, D. (2007). “Boys Named Sue: Disruptive Children and their Peers.” . Education Finance and Policy.

Figlio, D. and Kenny, L. (2007). “Individual Teacher Incentives and Student Performance” . Journal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D. (2006). “Testing, Crime and Punishment.”. Journal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D. and Rouse, C. (2006). “Do Accountability and Voucher Threats Improve Low-Performing Schools?” . Journal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D., and Winicki, J. (2005). “Food for Thought? The Effects of School Accountability Plans on School Nutrition”. Journal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D., and Lucas, M. (2004). “What’s in a Grade? School Report Cards and the Housing Market” . American Economic Review.

Figlio, D. and others (2004). “Maternal and Infant Factors Associated with Excess Kindergarten Costs.” . Pediatrics.

Figlio, D. and Lucas, M. (2004). “Do High Grading Standards Affect Student Performance?” . Journal of Public Economics.

Epple, D., Figlio, D., and Romano, R. (2004). “Competition Between Private and Public Schools: Testing Stratification and Pricing Predictions” . Journal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D., Husted, T., and Kenny, L. (2004). “Political Economy of the Inequality in School Spending” . Journal of Urban Economics.

Figlio, D. (2003). “Fiscal Implications of School Accountability Initiatives.” . Tax Policy and the Economy.

Figlio, D., and Page, M. (2003). “Can School Choice and School Accountability Coexist Successfully?” in Hoxby, C., The Economics of School Choice University of Chicago Press.

Figlio, D. and Page, M. (2002). “School Choice and the Distributional Effects of Ability Tracking: Does Separation Increase Inequality?” . Journal of Urban Economics.

Figlio, D. (2002). “Can Public Schools Buy Better-Qualified Teachers?” . Industrial and Labor Relations Review.

Figlio, D., and O'Sullivan, A. (2001). “The Local Response to Tax Limitation Measures: Do Local Governments Manipulate Voters to Increase Revenues?” . Journal of Law and Economics.

Figlio, D., and Stone, J. (2001). “Can Public Policy Affect Private School Cream Skimming?”. Journal of Urban Economics.

Figlio, D. and Rueben, K. (2001). “Tax Limits and the Qualifications of New Teachers” . Journal of Public Economics.

Ziliak, J., Gunderson, C., Figlio, D., and Connolly, L. (2000). “Accounting for the Decline in AFDC Caseloads: Economic Growth or Welfare Reform?” . Journal of Human Resources.

Blonigen, B., and Figlio, D. (1998). “Voting for Protection: Does Direct Foreign Investment Influence Legislator Behavior?”. American Economic Review.

Figlio, D. (1997). "Did the Tax Revolt Reduce School Performance?". Journal of Public Economics.

Research Interests

Accountability policy; economics of education; teacher quality; teacher labor markets; anti-poverty policy; intergenerational transmission of human capital; evaluation design.



HDSP 412

Quantitative Methods III: Empirical Tools for Causal Quantitative Analysis This course provides an introduction to many of the important tools of estimating causal models, including experimental analysis, difference-in-difference, regression discontinuity designs, propensity score matching, event study, interrupted time series, and other regression-based models. Emphasis is placed on understanding the rationales behind the empirical techniques chosen, and the interpretation of the analysis. Students develop hands-on technical skills as well as critical research-reading skills in this course.


Economics of Education Policy

Committees (PhD)

Start End Name Position Description
Cassandra Hart Chair High involvement, expected completion Spring 2011
Molly Metzger Chair High involvement, expected completion Spring 2011
Constance Lindsay Chair High involvement, expected completion Spring 2011
Vivian Wong Member Low involvement, expected completion not certain
University of Florida dissertation committees Member I am serving on seven University of Florida dissertation committees, five as chair. Five of these seven will complete their dissertations by summer 2009. A sixth will complete her dissertation by spring 2010 and intends to move to Evanston. The seventh will find a new advisor after this spring.


Works In Progress

2008 School Vouchers in Florida, School Accountability and School Practice, Intergenerational Issues in Health and Education
I expect to submit at least four manuscripts for publication this coming year in these three strands. I have presented work in progress on one of these papers at the January 2009 American Economic Association meetings and have seminars scheduled for this spring at Iowa State University, Princeton University, Georgetown University, Louisiana State University, UCLA, UC-Irvine, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Georgia State University, the University of Stockholm, as well as several conferences. I will present two colloquia this spring at Northwestern. These will all be venues to present some of this work in progress.

Last Updated: 2016-01-08 15:05:56