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Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Margaret Walker Alexander Professor of Human Development and Social Policy

PhD, Economics, Princeton University, 2002

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 work traces the impact of major public policies such as the Food Stamp Program, school finance reform, and early childhood education on children’s long-term outcomes. She is the Margaret Walker Alexander Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy.

Schanzenbach has published in many top-tier economics journals. Her research is regularly cited in top media outlets, and she has testified before both the Senate and House of Representatives on her research.

From 2015–17, she served as director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and from September 2017 until July 2023, she was IPR's director. She is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a research associate at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Education and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

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. Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she has been researching the effects of the pandemic on food insecurity in real time. She also has created an app with an IPR summer undergraduate research assistant that tracks measures of food insecurity across all 50 states.


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Schanzenbach, D. W., and M. Strain. Forthcoming. Employment effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit: Taking the long view. Tax Policy and the Economy.

Schanzenbach, D. W. 2019. Exploring options to improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, ed. R. Moffitt and J. Ziliak. 686(1): 204–28.

Anderson, P., K. Butcher, and D. W. Schanzenbach. 2019. Understanding recent trends in childhood obesity in the United States. Economics and Human Biology 34: 16–25.

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.