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David Figlio

Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy and of Economics (by courtesy) | Dean of the School of Education and Social Policy

PhD, Economics, University of Wisconsin, 1995 

IPR education economist David Figlio conducts research on a wide range of education and health policy issues from school accountability and standards to welfare policy and policy design. His current research projects involve studying the interrelationship between health and education, the ways in which parents confer advantage and disadvantage to their children, and the role of educational institutions in affecting these relationships; higher education policies and practices such as online education and educational staffing; K-12 education policies such as school accountability, school choice, and teacher tenure; and early childhood health and education policies such as early interventions for autism spectrum disorders. He also recently led a National Science Foundation-sponsored national network to facilitate the use of matched administrative datasets to inform and evaluate education policy.

Figlio's work has been published in numerous leading journals, including the American Economic Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, JAMA Pediatrics, Review of Economics and Statistics, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, and Journal of Human Resources. Organizations supporting his research include the National Science Foundation, National Institute 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, Doris Duke Charitable Trust, Gates, Laura and John Arnold, MacArthur, Smith Richardson, and Spencer foundations, among others.

Figlio is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the executive board of the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. He served as the inaugural editor of the Association for Education Finance and Policy's journal, Education Finance and Policy (MIT Press), and recently completed ten years as Coeditor and then Editor (from 2015-2021) of the Journal of Human Resources. He has been part of many national education task forces and panels, such as the Institute of Medicine's panel on the Science of Child Development from Birth through Age Eight, and advised several U.S. states and foreign nations on the design, implementation, and evaluation of educational policies. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Education.

Figlio joined Northwestern in 2008 from the University of Florida, where he was the Knight-Ridder Professor of Economics.

Current Research

Immigration and education. Together with Paola Giuliano of UCLA, Riccardo Marchingiglio and Paola Sapienza of Northwestern, and Umut Ozek of the American Institutes for Research, Figlio is currently studying the effects of immigrant peers on native-born students.

Scaling up school vouchers. Together with Cassandra Hart of UC-Davis and Krzysztof Karbownik of Emory, Figlio is currently studying the effects of scaling up school vouchers on public school student outcomes.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Black, S., S. Breining, D. Figlio, J. Guryan, K. Karbownik, H. Nielsen, and M. Simonsen. Forthcoming. Sibling spillovers. Economic Journal.

Elder, T., D. Figlio, S. Imberman, and C. Persico. 2021. School segregation and racial gaps in special education identification. Journal of Labor Economics.

Persico, C., D. Figlio, and J. Roth. 2020. The developmental consequences of Superfund sitesJournal of Labor Economics.

Breining, S., J. Doyle, D. Figlio, K. Karbownik, and J. Roth. 2020. Birth order and delinquency: Evidence from Denmark and FloridaJournal of Labor Economics.

Figlio, D., and U. Özek. 2020. An extra year to learn English? Early grade retention and the human capital development of English learnersJournal of Public Economics.

Figlio, D., and U. Özek. 2019. Unwelcome guests? The effects of refugees on the educational outcomes of incumbent students. Journal of Labor Economics

Figlio, D., P. Giuliano, U. Özek, and P. Sapienza. 2019. Long term orientation and educational performance. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Autor, D., D. Figlio, K. Karbownik, J. Roth, and M. Wasserman. 2019. Family disadvantage and the gender gap in behavioral and educational outcomes. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Buetikofer, A., D. Figlio, K. Karbownik, C. Kuzawa, and K. Salvanes. 2019. Evidence that prenatal testosterone transfer from male twins reduces the fertility and socioeconomic success of their female co-twins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Figlio, D., J. Freese, K. Karbownik, and J. Roth. 2017. Socioeconomic status and genetic influences on cognitive development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114(51): 13441–46.

Garfield, C., K. Karbownik, K. Murthy, G. Falciglia, J. Guryan, D. Figlio, and J. Roth. 2017. Educational performance of children born prematurely. JAMA Pediatrics 171(8):764–70.

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.

Figlio, D., with M. Schapiro and K. Soter. 2015. Are tenure track professors better teachers? Review of Economics and Statistics 97(4): 715–24.

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 104(12): 3921-55.