Message from the Director: David Figlio


David Figlio stands in front of the Capitol following an IPR policy research briefing on No Child Left Behind in 2010.The problems facing our society are complex, and so is the knowledge necessary to propose viable policy solutions.


Take health policy, for example. Predicting how health policies would work in practice requires a deep understanding of the nature of healthcare and labor markets, the relationships between the public and private sectors, and the legal and political environments in which the policies are being devised and implemented. Layered atop this are cross-cutting questions that are too big for any one discipline: How do health policies affect the behaviors of patients and providers? How do early-life circumstances, education, and neighborhood influence adult health, and how does parental health carry forward to the next generation? How do we know that the outcomes we attribute to health policies are the result of those policies—not something altogether different?

Halfway through its fifth decade, the Institute for Policy Research has always understood that the best policy solutions come from collaborative efforts joining experts in different areas. IPR is home to one of the country's strongest groups in social policy, bringing together scholars from anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology, among others, to conduct cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on the most important questions of the day. I invite you to read more about our outstanding faculty and their research.

But conducting high-quality social science research is not enough. What happens if the best ideas and solutions fall unheard in policymaking circles? This is why the second key component of our mission involves disseminating IPR faculty research widely to stakeholders in localities, states, Congress, and around the world. We accomplish this in several ways via:

Finally, if it takes a village to raise a child, IPR is built around the idea that it takes a broad-based social science community to effectively address society’s ills. Researchers must precisely define the issues, design suitable studies, and carefully measure outcomes, and only then, propose forward-thinking, scalable solutions. Fostering such multi-faceted, rigorous collaboration is never an easy task, but it is a hallmark of our Institute. And it is one that we will continue to pursue as evidenced by our research centers in quantitative methodology and social disparities and health.

I am excited, and even a little awed, to be a part of such an exhilarating research enterprise, and I hope that you will continue to engage with and follow us as we move forward.

Best regards,

David Figlio

Director, Institute for Policy Research
Orrington Lunt Professor of Education
and Social Policy and of Economics