Education Economists: A Primer

Economics is the study of how scarce resources are distributed in the most efficient way to satisfy human wants (i.e., preferences). Education economists study how scarce resources – such as education funding and teacher quality – may be allocated across students and schools to best meet educational and policy goals across multiple levels of society, including the individual, communal and national levels.

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What do education economists do?

Economics is a social science that relies on the scientific method to pursue fundamentally important questions about the causal impact of policies and practices. Education economists rely on the conceptual and methodological tools of economics to study and analyze a wide range of educational issues, including education finance, educator labor markets, school accountability and educational choice (e.g., charter schools). In doing so, education economists rely on sophisticated statistical methods (i.e., econometrics) to understand the impact of educational policies and practices on students, teachers and schools. 

How can education economists help educational leaders?

Education economists can advise educational leaders and policymakers at multiple levels of government (local, state, federal) to better understand the impact of educational policies and practices. For example, school districts might wish to implement more equitable and rigorous systems for measuring the performance of their educators. To achieve these aims, state and local education leaders often partner with education economists to provide them with data-driven guidance to inform their decision-making process around the allocation and distribution of scarce educational resources and the design and implementation of educational systems and policies.

Why should my school district or educational organization partner with an education economist?

Education economists like Matthew partner with school districts and educational organizations to help them better understand the design, implementation and impact of a variety of educational policies and practices.

Check out Matthew's recent consulting engagements here.


What is an education economist?

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Economics of


A clearly written and comprehensive text that conveys fundamental information about educational policies and how economic models can help explain educational outcomes.


Mostly Harmless Econometrics

From Joshua Angrist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, and Jörn-Steffen Pischke, a practical guide to the application of econometric methods for causal inference.

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Economics of Education course taught by Matthew provides an overview of selected theoretical, conceptual and empirical perspectives on topics in the economics of education.