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David Figlio - University of Rochester. Rochester, NY, US

David Figlio

Provost, and Gordon Fyfe Professor of Economics and Education | University of Rochester


Figlio is an expert on educational, public, and social policy, including the link between health and education.

Areas of Expertise (11)


School Choice

Community Engagement


K-12 Education

Higher Education

Higher Education Economics

Health and Education


Faculty Diversity

Educational Leadership






David Figlio, Education in the Digital Age



David Figlio is an internationally recognized economist and educational leader whose interdisciplinary research spans educational, public, and social policy, including the link between health and education. He conducts research on a wide range of education and health policy issues from school accountability and standards to welfare policy and policy design, as well as the interrelationship between education and health. He also studies aspects of the academic profession itself, with recent papers on academic peer review and the publication process. He collaborates frequently with state and local health and education agencies, and recently led a National Science Foundation-sponsored national network to facilitate the use of matched administrative datasets to inform and evaluate education policy.

Figlio has published his work 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.

At the University of Rochester, Figlio holds a primary appointment in the Department of Economics and a joint professorship at the Warner School of Education.

Education (3)

George Washington University: BS, Business

University of Wisconsin-Madison: PhD, Economics

University of Wisconsin-Madison: MS, Economics

Selected Media Appearances (10)

Do Immigrant Students Help the Academic Outcomes of U.S.-Born Peers? One Study Says Yes

Education Week  print


In a study published in the Review of Economic Studies last year, David Figlio, provost and professor of economics and education at the University of Rochester, and his co-authors—Paola Giuliano with the University of California, Los Angeles, Riccardo Marchingiglio with the Analysis Group consulting firm, Umut Ozek with the RAND Corporation, Paola Sapienza with Northwestern University—analyzed population-level school records and birth records from Florida—a state with one of the largest immigrant student populations in the country across many schools. They found that, in most cases, greater exposure to immigrant peers correlated with better math and reading scores among U.S.-born students. “Our study puts the lie to the narrative that immigrant kids bring your classroom down,” Figlio said. “We looked at all sorts of different subgroups. We never found any evidence of a negative. The worst-case scenario we found for native-born students was a zero effect, that more immigrant kids in the classroom didn’t hurt or help. But the prevailing evidence we found was that immigrant students help.”

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The Sibling Effect: How Retaining Struggling Readers Impacts Brothers and Sisters

Education Week  print


An economist by training, David Figlio often conducts research on the cost effectiveness of education legislation and its impact on the students targeted by the new laws. But, after studying a Florida reading retention policy, Figlio, an economics and education professor and provost at the University of Rochester, and his research team found that policies meant to target individual students can also have unexpected benefits for those students’ younger siblings.

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University of Rochester Education School Cluster Hires Three Faculty Focused on Diversity Research

Diverse Issues in Higher Education  print


“Diversity of thought, diversity of knowledge, and diversity of lived experiences only serve to enhance our research and the educational experiences of our students,” said Dr. David Figlio, provost at the University of Rochester. “It’s more than meeting baseline standards for equity and inclusion. It’s about recognizing that truly preparing our graduates for the world and solving some of our society’s most pressing problems can only be done when there is a range of perspectives and a wealth of ideas.”

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Teaching: The Potential -- and Possible Pitfalls -- of Teaching Tracks

Chronicle of Higher Education  online


"It's tempting for institutions to quickly diversify the professoriate through the instructional ranks," David N. Figlio said.

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Can a Teaching Track Improve Undergraduate Education? Only if it’s built to empower instructors.

Chronicle of Higher Education  online


The study has sometimes been misinterpreted to show that tenure-track professors are worse teachers, says David N. Figlio, one of its authors. That’s not correct, he says — professors in the top three-quarters of each group have similar student outcomes. But the results do show that hiring and retaining professors for their teaching brings benefits.

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Northwestern University dean named provost at Rochester

University of Rochester  online


An internationally recognized economist and educational leader whose interdisciplinary research spans educational, public, and social policy, including the link between health and education, has been named the new provost at the University of Rochester.

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The Ripple Effect How private-school choice programs boost competition and benefit public-school students

Education Next  print


Advocates for taxpayer-funded school-choice programs cite the potential of market competition to spur educational improvement and promote equity for low-income students. When public schools don’t have to compete for students, the reasoning goes, they have less of an incentive to enhance their performance. Students whose communities don’t guarantee access to a high-performing public school are unfairly shortchanged if their families can’t afford to pay for a better alternative. Meanwhile, school-choice critics lament the exodus of talent and resources from public schools, which they argue such programs necessarily cause.

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Don’t Be Too Quick to Retain English-Language Learners

Education Week  print


Authors of a splashy ELL retention study urge “great caution”

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Did tenure reform in Florida affect student test scores?

Brookings  online


We examine the elimination of teacher tenure in Florida to better understand how job protections for teachers affect students. We focus on identifying the effect if removing tenure as part of Florida’s 2011 Student Success Act on student outcomes, and in particular the effect if this legislation on student achievement.

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School Choice and Accountability

C-SPAN  tv


David Figlio, a Northwestern University professor of education and social policy and of economics, spoke about trends in U.S. education policy, the changing education landscape, and evaluating school choice and accountability. He talked about the pros and cons of charter schools and whether vouchers make a difference in school quality.

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