Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Margaret Walker Alexander Professor of Human Development and Social Policy | IPR Director


IPR Director Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach is an economist who studies policies aimed at improving the lives of children in poverty, including education, health, and income support policies. Her recent work has focused on tracing the impact of major public policies such as the Food Stamp Program and early childhood education on children’s long-term outcomes. 

Her research has received financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Education, the Spencer Foundation and the Smith-Richardson Foundation, and has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, and the Journal of Human Resources, among other outlets. She has testified before both the Senate and House of Representatives on her research.

From 2015–17, Schanzenbach served as director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research associate at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Current Research

Impacts of Nutrition Assistance Programs. With various coauthors, Schanzenbach is working on understanding the impacts of nutrition assistance programs—including the food-stamp program and school meals. In this ongoing work, she investigates child outcomes such as health, obesity, and academic outcomes, and outcomes regarding family finances such as food security and spending.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Hoynes, H., and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2018. Safety net investments in children. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Spring 2018.

Lafortune, J., J. Rothstein, and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2018. School finance reform and the distribution of student achievement. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 10(2): 1–26. 


Anderson, P., K. Butcher, and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2017. The effect of school accountability policies on children’s health. Education Finance and Policy 12(1): 54–76. 


Hoynes, H., D. W. Schanzenbach, and D. Almond. 2016. Long-run impacts of childhood access to the safety netAmerican Economic Review 106(4): 903–34.

Anderson, P., K. Butcher, and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2015. Changes in safety net use during the Great Recession. American Economic Review 105(5): 161–65.

Cascio, E., and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2013. The impacts of expanding access to high-quality preschool education. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2013: 127–78.

Hoynes, H., and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2012. Work incentives and the Food Stamp Program. Journal of Public Economics 96(1-2): 151–62.

Almond, D., H. Hoynes, and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2011. Inside the war on poverty: The impact of food stamps on birth outcomes. Review of Economics and Statistics 93(2): 387–404.

Chetty, R., J. Friedman, N. Hilger, E. Saez, D. W. Schanzenbach, and D. Yagan. 2011. How does your kindergarten classroom affect your earnings? Evidence from Project STAR. Quarterly Journal of Economics 126(4): 1593–660.

Neal, D., and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2010. Left behind by design: Proficiency counts and test-based accountability. The Review of Economics and Statistics 92(2): 263–83.