David Figlio

David Figlio

Dean, School of Education and Social Policy
Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy
Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research


One of the nation’s most influential researchers on education and social policy, David Figlio is the Orrington Lunt Professor and Dean of the School of Education and Social Policy. 

In 2017, Figlio was elected to the National Academy of Education for his work involving school accountability, standards, higher education practice, welfare policy, policy design, and the link between health and education. 

An economist by training, Figlio currently serves as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty.

He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Human Resources and has served on numerous national education task forces and panels. In addition, Figlio has advised the governments of several U.S. states and nations on five continents on the design, implementation, and evaluation of education policy.

Figlio is a prolific writer and has been published in leading journals, including the American Economic Review, JAMA Pediatrics, Review of Economics and Statistics, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Law and Economics, and Journal of Human Resources. 

Figlio served as director of the Institute for Policy Research from 2012-2017. Prior to joining the Northwestern faculty in 2008, he taught at the University of Florida, where he was the Knight-Ridder Professor of Economics from 1998-2008, and the University of Oregon, where he was assistant professor of economics from 1995-1998. Figlio earned his PhD in economics in 1995 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

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. His work also has been supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropic Society, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.

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

Autor, D., Figlio, D., K.Karbownik, J. Roth, and M. Wasserman (2016). School quality and the gender gap in educational achievement. American Economic Review: 106(5):289-95.
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Figlio, D., J. Guryan, K. Karbownik, and J. Roth (2016). Long-term cognitive and health outcomes of school-aged children who were born late-term versus full term. JAMA Pediatrics: 170(8):758-64.
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Figlio, D., with M. Schapio and K. Soter (2015). Are tenure track professors better teachers? . Review of Economics and Statistics: 97(4):715-24.
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Figlio, D. with C. Hart (2014). Competitive effects of means-tested school vouchers. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: 6(1):133-56.
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Figlio, D, with J. Guryan, K.Karbownik, and J. Roth (2014). The effects of poor neonatal health on children's cognitive development. American Economic Review: 3921-55.

Figlio, D., with D. Goldhaber, J. Hannaway, and C. Rouse (2013). Feeling the Florida heat? How low-performing schools respond to voucher and accountability pressure. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: 5(2):251-81.

Figlio, D., with M. Rush and L. Yin (2013). Is it live or is it Internet? Experimental estimates of the effects of online instruction on student learning. Journal of Labor Economics: 31(4):763-84.

Figlio, D., with L. Feng, J. Hannaway, T. Sass, and Z. Xu (2012). Value-added of teachers in high-poverty and lower poverty schools. Journal of Urban Economics: 72(2-3)1-4-22.

Figlio, D., with D. Fletcher (2012). Suburbanization, demographic change, and the consequences for school finance. Journal of Public Economics: 96(11-12):1144-53.

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 is 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 public and private schools: Testing stratification and pricing predictions . Journal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D., Husted, T., and Kenny, L. (2004). Political economy of the inequality of 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.

Last Updated: 2017-09-11 11:55:15