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Ofer Malamud

Professor of Human Development and Social Policy

PhD, Economics, Harvard University, 2004

Ofer Malamud is an economist focused on education policy from an international perspective. His research is concentrated in three substantive areas: educational investments over the life course, the role of technology in the formation of human capital, and the effect of general and specific education on labor market outcomes. He has studied these topics in a wide range of institutional settings across countries such as Chile, England, Israel, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Scotland, and the United States.

Malamud is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the CESifo Research Network. He also serves as a research consultant for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Before joining Northwestern, he was on the faculty of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Current Research

Self-, Peer- and Teacher Perceptions under School Tracking: This project, coauthored with Andreea Mitrut, Cristian Pop-Eleches, and Miguel Urquiola, focuses on Romania’s highly tracked school system. Using information on student and teacher perceptions of academic effort, performance, ability, and self-confidence that the researchers collected in 87 high schools that use strict ability tracking, they find that students who are tracked into a top class have less favorable self-perceptions than those just below, consistent with “big-fish-little-pond” effects. Furthermore, students perceive students in their own class more favorably, consistent with “in-group bias”, and this bias is stronger in lower-achieving classes. Finally, students perceive themselves more positively than others perceive them, consistent with “illusory superiority”, and this bias also appears to be stronger among lower-achieving students, consistent with Krueger-Dunning effects. Malamud and his colleagues conclude that tracking does not necessarily negatively affect students’ self-perceptions.

Understanding the adoption and diffusion of educational technology: Evidence from Peru: This project explores the adoption and diffusion of an online math curriculum for 4th to 6th-grade students, called Connecta Ideas (CI). Collaborating with the Ministry of Education in Peru, Malamud and his colleagues randomly assigned 188 primary schools in Lima to four treatment arms: (i) an intensive teacher intervention that paired teachers with coordinators to assist with take-up and use, (ii) a low-cost teacher intervention that provides teachers with virtual workshops to encourage take-up and use, (iii) a school-wide intervention providing virtual workshops to all teachers, and (iv) a control group that receives no treatment. They will examine which teachers are more likely to adopt this online math curriculum and how this educational technology is diffused to students and whether there are spillovers to other teachers. The results will inform policymakers who are seeking to scale up this program in Peru and other parts of Latin America, as well as the adoption of education technology in other settings.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Mongolia. There is renewed interest in the potential for technical and vocational education to improve labor market outcomes in developed and developing countries. An initiative by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has sought to alleviate the mismatch between the supply and demand for skilled labor in Mongolia by funding equipment upgrades in vocational schools. Malamud is among the principal investigators leading the effort to analyze the impact of these equipment upgrades and vocational education in Mongolia more generally. The random assignment of applicants to trades in 10 TVET schools allows for a compelling evaluation of the impact of admission to a TVET school. Preliminary results indicate that admission to, and graduation from, technical and vocational schools leads to improved employment prospects and higher earnings, especially for women. There is also evidence of improved knowledge in the chosen trades and higher work intensity among women.

Selected Publications

Goff, L., O. Malamud, C. Pop-Eleches, and M. Urquiola. 2023. Interactions between family and school environments: Access to abortion and selective schools. Journal of Human Resources.  

Kaestner, R., and O. Malamud. 2022. Headstrong girls and dependent boys: Gender differences in the labor market returns to child behavior. ILR Review 76: 112–34.

Malamud, O., A. Mitrut, and C. Pop-Eleches. 2021. The effect of education on mortality and health: Evidence from a schooling expansion in Romania. Journal of Human Resources 58: 561–92.

Gallego F., O. Malamud,  and C. Pop-Eleches. 2020. Parental monitoring and children's Internet use: The role of information, control, and salience. Journal of Public Economics 188: 1-18.

Malamud, O., B. Beuermann, J. Cristia, and S. Cueto. 2019. Do children benefit from Internet access? Experimental evidence from PeruJournal of Development Economics 138: 41–56.

Buckles, K., A. Hagemann, O. Malamud, M. Morrill, and A. Wozniak. 2016. The impact of college education on mortality. Journal of Health Economics 50: 99–114.

Barrow, L., and O. Malamud. 2015. Is college a worthwhile investment? Annual Review of Economics 7: 519–55.

Beuermann, D., J. Cristia, S. Cueto, O. Malamud, and Y. Cruz-Aguayo. 2015. One laptop per child at home: Short-term impacts from a randomized experiment in Peru. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 7(2): 53–80.