Helen Ladd

Edgar Thompson Professor of Public Policy Studies and Professor of Economics at Duke University

Helen F. Ladd is the Edgar Thompson Professor of Public Policy Studies and Professor of Economics at Duke University. 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. Most of her current research focuses on education policy.

Most recently, she has co-edited The Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy (2008), and co-authored (with Edward Fiske) Elusive Equity: Education Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Brookings Institution, 2004 and HSRC Press in paperback, 2005). She is also the editor of Holding Schools Accountable: Performance-Based Reform in Education (Brookings Institution, 1996) and the coauthor (with Edward Fiske) of When Schools Compete: A Cautionary Tale (Brookings Institution, 2000) which draws lessons for the U.S from New Zealand’s experience with self-governing schools, parental choice and competition.

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'. During the past few years she has written articles on charter schools, school-based accountability, market-based reforms in education, parental choice and competition, the effects of HUD’s Moving to Opportunity Program on educational opportunities and outcomes, and a series of papers on teacher quality and student achievement. Currently she is continuing her research on teacher labour markets and teacher quality using North Carolina data.

As a more general expert on state and local public finance and education policy, Professor Ladd has also written extensively on the fiscal implications of growth, property taxation, education finance, tax and expenditure limitations, intergovernmental aid, state economic development, and the fiscal problems of U.S cities. In addition, she has co-authored books on discrimination in mortgage lending and the capitalisation of property taxes and edited a volume on tax and expenditure limitations. She is the co-author (with John Yinger) of America's Ailing Cities: Fiscal Health and the Design of Urban Policy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989; updated edition, 1991) and the primary author of Local Government Tax and Land Use Policies in the United States: Understanding the Links (Elgar Publishers, 1998).

She has been active in the National Tax Association (which she served as President in 1993-94) and the Association for Public Policy and Management, and has consulted on tax policy and intergovernmental relations for all three levels of government. 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.

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