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Kirabo Jackson

Kirabo Jackson

  • Abraham Harris Professor of Education and Social Policy
  • Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research

Affiliated Center(s)

Institute for Policy Research

Research Interests

Economics of education, labor economics, public finance, applied econometrics, development.


Kirabo Jackson, a labor economist who studies education and social policy issues, is the Abraham Harris Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University.

Jackson, who was appointed to the White House Council of Economic Advisors in August 2023, has analyzed several important aspects of education policy, including the importance of public school funding on student outcomes through adulthood, the effects of college-preparatory programs on students’ college and labor market outcomes, the effects of educational tracking on students’ academic achievement, and how single-sex education can impact students’ academic performance.

However, the bulk of Jackson’s work has focused on better understanding teacher labor markets. Jackson’s extensive work on teachers analyzes the role of peer learning in teacher effectiveness, how student demographics directly affect the distribution of teacher quality across schools, how a teacher’s effectiveness depends on the schooling context within which they operate, how best to measure teacher quality and other related topics.

Since 2016, Jackson has been listed among the top university-based scholars who are doing the most to influence educational policy and practice by Education Week. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and other organizations.

In 2022, Jackson was appointed lead editor for the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, one of the nation’s most respected scholarly economic journals. He serves on the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession at the American Economic Association and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

Jackson’s scholarly articles have appeared in leading economics journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Political Economy, the American Economic Journal, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Journal of Labor Economics, and the Journal of Human Resources. His research has been featured in a number of mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and others.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in ethics, politics, and economics from Yale University in 1998 and his doctorate in economics from Harvard University in 2007. He was assistant professor in the department of labor economics at Cornell University between 2007 and 2010 and then moved to Northwestern where he subsequently earned tenure in 2012. He was promoted to full professor in 2017.


  • PhD, Economics, Harvard University, 2007
  • AM, Economics, Harvard University, 2005
  • BA, Ethics, Politics and Economics, Yale University, 2002 

Awards and Honors

  • 2023: Appointed to the White House Council of Economic Advisors
  • 2022: Elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • 2020: Elected to the National Academy of Education.
  • 2020: Winner of the David N. Kershaw Award by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM).
  • 2019: Received named professorship “Abraham Harris Professor of Human Development and Social Policy.”
  • 2018: Winner of the Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence.
  • 2016:  Named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow.

Selected Publications

Jackson, C. K. and C. Mackevicius. Forthcoming. What impacts can we expect from school spending policy? Evidence from evaluations in the U.S.  American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Beuermann, D., C. K. Jackson, L. Navarro-Sola, and F. Pardo. 2023. What is a good school, and can parents tell? Evidence on the multidimensionality of school outputThe Review of Economic Studies 90(1): 65–101.

Beuermann, D., and C. K. Jackson. 2022. The short and long-run effects of attending the schools that parents preferJournal of Human Resources 57(3): 725–46.

Jackson, C. K. 2021. Can introducing single-sex education into low-performing schools improve academics, arrests, and teen motherhood? Journal of Human Resources 56(1): 1–39.

C. Kirabo Jackson, Cora Wigger, Northwestern University, Heyu Xiong, Northwestern University (2020). Do School Spending Cuts Matter? Evidence from the Great Recession.American Economic Journal: Economic Policy

C. Kirabo Jackson (2020). Does School Spending Matter? The New Literature on an Old Question.An Equal Start: Policy and Practice to Promote Equality of Opportunity for Children.

C. Kirabo Jackson, Shanette C Porter, John Q Easton, Alyssa Blanchard, Sebastián Kiguel (2020). School Effects on Socio-emotional Development, School-Based Arrests, and Educational Attainment.American Economic Review: Insights.

Diether W. Beuermann, C. Kirabo Jackson (2020). The Short and Long-Run Effects of Attending The Schools that Parents Prefer.Journal of Human Resources.

Jackson, C. Kirabo (2019). Can Introducing Single-Sex Education into Low-Performing Schools Improve Academics, Arrests, and Teen Motherhood?.Journal of Human Resources.

Jackson, C. Kirabo (2019). Reducing Inequality Through Dynamic Complementarity: Evidence from Head Start and Public School Spending. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.