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Helen F. Ladd, Susan B. King Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy

Helen F. Ladd

Helen F. Ladd is the Susan B. King Professor Emerita  of Public Policy and Economics at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.  Her education research focuses on school finance and accountability, teacher labor markets, school choice, and early childhood programs.  With colleagues at Duke University and UNC, she has used rich longitudinal administrative data from North Caroline to study school segregation, teacher labor markets, teacher quality, charter schools, and early childhood programs. With her husband, Edward Fiske, she has written books and articles on education reform efforts in New Zealand, South Africa, the Netherlands, and England.

She is the co-author or co-editor of 12 books. These include Holding Schools Accountable: Performance-Based Reform in Education (Brookings Institution, 1996); The Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy (2008 and second edition 2015), books on school reform in New Zealand and South Africa, and Educational Goods: Values, Evidence and Decision Making (University of Chicago Press, 2018).

From 1996-99 she co-chaired a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Education Finance. In that capacity she is the co-editor of two books: a set of background papers, Equity and Adequacy in Education Finance and the final report, Making Money Matter: Financing America’s Schools.

In 2011, she was elected to membership in the National Academy of Education. During 2016 and 2017 she served as a member of a National Academy study of financing early care and education with a highly qualified workforce. She is currently a member of the N.C. Governor's Commission on Access to a Sound, Basic Education.

She was president of the Association for Public Policy and Management in 2011 and, from its founding in 2008 until 2017 was co-chair of the national campaign for a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education.

Prior to 1986, she taught at Dartmouth College, Wellesley College, and at Harvard University, first in the City and Regional Planning Program and then in the Kennedy School of Government.  She graduated with a B.A. degree from Wellesley College in 1967, received a master's degree from the London School of Economics in 1968, and earned her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1974.

Early in her career, her research focused on state and local public finance, and she was active in the National Tax Association, which she served as president in 1993-94. She has also been a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, a senior research fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.

With the support of two Fulbright grants, she spent the spring term of 1998 in New Zealand studying that country’s education system and the spring term of 2002 doing similar research in South Africa. More recently, she spent a term as a visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam examining the Netherlands’ long experience with parental choice and weighted student funding, and two months in London at the Institute for Fiscal Studies pursuing research on school improvement and English academies.   

Contact Info:
Office Location:  238 Rubenstein Hall, Box 90132, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 613-7352
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:


Ph.D. Harvard University1974
MSc with distinctionLondon School of Economics1968
B.A.Wellesley College1967

Public Economics
Research Interests: Education policy, state and local public finance, intergovernmental fiscal relations

Much of my current research focuses on education policy. As an applied policy-ioriented economist I address isues related to school finance, accountability, school choice, and teacher labor markets, in both the U.S. and selected other countries. My most recent (co-authored with Edward Fiske) book is on South Africa and is called "Elusive Equity: Education Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa" (Brookings Institution Press, 2004).

Areas of Interest:

School finance
state and local public finance
school choice
teacher labor markets
racial disparities in education


Achievement • Adolescent • Child • Community colleges • Education • education • education finance • Educational Measurement • Educational Status • Emigrants and Immigrants • Emigration and Immigration • Hispanic Americans • Mathematics • North Carolina • racial achievement gaps • Reading • school choice

Curriculum Vitae
Representative Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Ladd, HF, Education and Poverty: Confronting the Evidence, Presidential address to the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 31 no. 2 (2012), pp. 203-227, ISSN 0276-8739 [DukeSpace], [doi]  [abs]
  2. Ladd, HF; Fiske, EB, Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy, Education Finance and Policy, vol. 3 no. 1 (January, 2008), pp. 149-150, MIT Press - Journals, ISSN 1557-3060 (Official handbook of the American Education Finance Association..) [doi]
  3. Clotfelter, CT; Ladd, HF; Vigdor, JL, Teacher Mobility, school Segregation, and Pay-Based policies to level the playing field, Summer issue, Education Finance and Policy, vol. 6 no. 3 (June, 2011), pp. 399-438, MIT Press - Journals, ISSN 1557-3060 [doi]  [abs]
  4. H.F. Ladd, Charles T. Clotfelter, Jacob Vigdor, Teacher Credentials and Student Achievement in High School: A Cross Subject Analysis with Fixed Effects, Journal of Human Resources (2010) (45 (3), 655-681.) [655.full.pdf+html]
  5. Bifulco, R; Ladd, HF, School choice, racial segregation, and test-score gaps: Evidence from North Carolina's charter school program, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 26 no. 1 (Winter, 2007), pp. 31-56, WILEY, ISSN 0276-8739 [doi]  [abs]

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