Eric Alan Hanushek is an economist who has written prolifically on public policy with a special emphasis on the economics of education. Since 2000 he has been the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, an American public policy think tank located at Stanford University in California. Hanushek advocates using economic analysis to improve student performance. He has authored numerous, highly cited articles on the effects of class size reduction, high-stakes accountability, teacher effectiveness, and other education related topics. In a 1971 paper he introduced the concept of evaluating teacher effectiveness on the basis of student learning gains. This idea is the basis of value-added assessments of teacher quality. In his most recent book, The Knowledge Capital of Nations, Hanushek concludes that the quality of education is causally related to economic growth.
Finding the Right Focus
Perhaps there are people who know from early life what they want to do for their life’s work, but I suspect they are rather rare. The actual process of getting to the right place, at least from my experience, involves a series of iterations that require learning one’s own skills, matching skills with life plans and objectives, and probably
something that looks a lot like luck. This autobiographical essay represents my attempt to extract the separate facets of arriving at my current position as an economist who tries to match evidence about education with policy.
Imagine for a moment that a rich, innovative company is looking to draft the best and brightest high-school grads from across the globe without regard to geography. Let’s say this company’s recruiter has a round-the-world plane ticket and just a few weeks to scout for talent. Where should he go?
Our hypothetical recruiter knows there’s little sense in judging a nation like the United States by comparing it to, say, Finland. This is a big country, after all, and school quality varies dramatically from state to state. What he really wants to know is, should he visit Finland or Florida? Korea or Connecticut? Uruguay or Utah?
Winner of the 2004 Fordham Prize for Distinguished Scholarship
The Thomas B. Fordham Prize for Distinguished Scholarship is given to a scholar who has made major contributions to education reform via research, analysis, and successful engagement in the war of ideas.
NBER Profile: Eric A. Hanushek
Eric A. Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is also a Senior Research Associate at the Green Center for the Study of Science and Society of the University of Texas at Dallas.
Born in Lakewood, Ohio, in 1943, Hanushek received his Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Air Force Academy in 1965 and his Ph.D in economics from MIT in 1968. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1961-74.
Before joining the Hoover Institution in 2000, Hanushek was professor of economics and public policy at the University of Rochester. He joined the University of Rochester faculty in 1978, having taught at Yale University from1975-8, and at the U.S. Air Force Academy from 1968-73. Hanushek's research concentrates on applied public finance and public policy analysis with special emphasis on education issues.
From 1983 through 1985, Hanushek was Deputy Director of the Congressional Budget Office. He was also a Senior Staff Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers (1971-2) and a Senior Economist at the Cost of Living Council (1973-4). Hanushek was president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management in 1988-9, and in 1997 he was selected to be a member of the International Academy of Education.
He and his partner, Macke Raymond, enjoy skiing, squash, and looking after their large yellow dog, Reckless