Jackson Named to White House Council

Jackson Named to White House Council

Kirabo JacksonJackson will advise the President on economic policy based on data, research and evidence.Northwestern University’s C. Kirabo Jackson, one of the world’s leading experts in the economics of education, was appointed to the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Jackson, the Abraham Harris Professor of Education and Social Policy at the School of Education and Social Policy, begins his term at the end of August.

"It is a testament to what we already know: Kirabo Jackson is a rigorous economist, whose work has the power to drive larger research agendas and help create important policy,” said School of Education and Social Policy Dean Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy. "We celebrate his appointment and know that his work will be impactful."

Jackson, a faculty fellow in Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research, is best known for his creative, thorough and highly convincing research on some of the most important education policy topics of the day.

In 2015, he shook up the field after applying new research methods to dig deeper and question long-held assumptions about whether school spending can affect a child’s future. He began to show that money can matter, reigniting a national debate on school finance. The study, "The effects of school spending on educational and economic outcomes: Evidence from school finance reforms" is his most cited work.

More recently, he has examined what makes someone a good teacher and casts doubt on whether test scores are the best way—or only way—to assess how well students do in school.

“When people look back on their most important teachers, the social aspects of their education—learning to take risks, set goals, or simply believe in themselves—are often what they recall,” Jackson told SESP Magazine. “I want to know what skills students need to become productive adults and which teachers can build these traits.”

When Jackson joined the SESP faculty in 2010, he found the multidisciplinary environment of the school and the Institute for Policy Research electrifying. Exposure to the ideas and research methods of statisticians, sociologists, psychologists, historians, and others from different fields changed the types of questions he asked and “definitely deepened my thinking,” he said. “I wanted to learn a whole new tool kit and bring those insights into economics.” 

Jackson, 43, is one of the youngest members to have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education. In 2020, he received the David N. Kershaw Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, recognizing his contributions to the field of public policy analysis and management. He also is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“As a scholar conducting policy-facing research, my goal has always been to influence policy. Therefore, being granted the privilege to serve as an advisor to President Biden is both an incredible honor and a great opportunity,” Jackson said.

Currently, Jackson serves as the editor-in-chief of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. He previously was co-editor of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and the Journal of Human Resources.

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By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 8/15/23