Early in my career I focused on OSHA, single-sex education, and CEO labor markets, yielding papers in the Journal of Labor Research, the Journal of Economics and Finance, and Industrial Relations. I soon merged my interest in incentive compensation and the economics of education to study teacher and principal labor markets. In my paper in Industrial and Labor Relations Review, I find that accountability (e.g., district-mandated goals and state sanctions for poor performance) coincides with lower college matriculation rates for students, and lower principal pay. However, I also find that accountability measures are correlated with lower drop-out rates at struggling schools. Though principals at those schools may not have been directly rewarded by accountability policies, they appear to have acted as agents for students in danger of dropping out.

For another education-related topic, I was co-principal investigator on a $500,000 grant from the USDA’s National Research Initiative. In this work we collected a vast amount of data on schools, districts, and communities across Illinois. We document the causes and consequences of school closures, which appear to devastate many rural communities. Altogether, this grant yielded six academic papers, and some independent research for independent schools. For instance, though school administrators claim that the motivation for school closures is simply declining enrolment and rising expenditures, I find that school quality (as measured by standardized test score performance) matters. Results also reveal that students are often harmed by closures. Even if students move to a “better” school, many test scores fall and drop-out rates rise.

Expanding upon my early work on girls’ schools and women’s colleges, I again focused on single-sex education in a paper published in the Economics of Education Review. (No, I have never attended a single-sex school, I just find them intriguing.) I find that both male and female graduates of single-sex schools are less likely to meet their own educational goals, and they are more gender-segregated across college majors than their coed peers. On the other hand, [ Read more... ]

Major Grants


"The Social, Economic, and Educational Correlates of Rural School Closure: A Longitudinal Analysis of Predictors and Outcomes"

$500,000, 2006, USDA National Research Initiative,
co-PIs: F. Beck, N. Durflinger, J. Pacha

"Teacher Investment and Retirement Education"

$104,000, 2011, Investor Protection Trust, co-PI: T. Lucey


Selected Publications


"Principals as Agents? Investigating Accountability in the Compensation and Performance of School Principals"
Industrial and Labor Relations Review

"On Reconstructing School Segregation: The Efficacy and Equity of Single-Sex Schooling"
Economics of Education Review

The "Determinants of High School Closures: Lessons from Longitudinal Data throughout Illinois"
Journal of Education Finance, with Frank D. Beck

"Mass Layoffs and CEO Turnover"
Industrial Relations, with Kevin F. Hallock

"Do existing corruption levels matter in controlling corruption?: Cross-country quantile regression estimates"
Journal of Development Economics, with Rajeev K. Goel