Areas of expertise
Economics of education • Education policy • Quantitative methods • Program evaluation
Emma García joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2013. She specializes in the economics of education and education policy. Her areas of research include analysis of the production of education (cognitive and noncognitive skills); returns to education; evaluation of educational interventions (early childhood, K–12, and higher education); educational equity; human development; international comparative education; and cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis in education. Prior to joining EPI, García conducted research for the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education, the Campaign for Educational Equity, the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, and the Community College Research Center, all at Teachers College, Columbia University; and consulting work for MDRC, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Ph.D., Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
M.A., Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences, Columbia University
B.A., Economics, Pompeu Fabra University
Search publications by Emma García
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”—Dr.
A founding ideal of American democracy is that merit, not accident of birth, should determine individuals’ income and social status.
Traits and skills such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, persistence, and self-control—which are often collectively called noncognitive skills, or social and emotional skills—are vitally important to children’s full development. Developing these skills should thus be an explicit goal of public education.
Introduction and executive summary
A renowned California court decision in 2014 declaring that teacher tenure laws violated the state constitution has highlighted the issue of tenure and its relationship to the allocation of teachers across schools (Vergara v.
An ambitious national investment in early childhood care and education would provide high societal returns. American productivity would improve with a better-educated and healthier future workforce, inequality would be immediately reduced as resources to provide quality child care are progressively made available to families with children, and the next generation would benefit from a more level playing field that allows for real equality of opportunity.
The most important lessons U.S. policymakers can learn about improving education emerge from examining why some U.S. states have made large gains in math and reading and achieve high average test scores. The lessons embedded in how these states increased student achievement in the past two decades are much more relevant to improving student outcomes in other U.S. states than looking to high-scoring countries with social, political, and educational histories that differ markedly from the U.S. experience.
That early education inequalities are a reflection of economic inequalities raises serious concerns about the presumed relationship between education and social mobility. It also calls into question the claim that we can reduce income inequality if we just focus more on education.
The most socioeconomically disadvantaged children lag substantially in reading skills as early as kindergarten. This skill level rises along with social class. For example, children in the highest socioeconomic group (the high SES fifth) have reading scores that are significantly higher—by a full standard deviation—than scores of their peers in the lowest socioeconomic group.
Understanding disparities in school readiness among America’s children when they begin kindergarten is critically important, now more than ever. In today’s 21st century global economy, we expect the great majority of our children to complete high school ready to enter college or begin a career, and assume their civic responsibilities.
Introduction and executive summary
Inequalities in education outcomes such as test scores or degree attainment have been at the center of education policy debates for decades.
Despite noncognitive skills’ central roles in our education and, more broadly, our lives, education analysis and policy have tended to overlook their importance. Thus, there are currently few strategies to nurture them within the school context or through education policies. However, after a relatively prolonged lack of consideration, noncognitive skills are again beginning to be acknowledged in discussions about education, leading to the need for thoughtful and concerted attention from researchers, policymakers, and practitioners.
In his new book, From Preschool to Prosperity, Upjohn Institute Senior Economist Timothy Bartik makes a powerful case for the benefits of universal, versus targeted, pre-K.
The Wallethub state school quality rankings that were released earlier this month add to a growing list of such guides. They join those of the Education Law Center, which has ranked state school systems since 2011 using a four-part funding equity model, Students First’s state report cards, and the Brookings Institution Brown Center’s Education Choice and Competition rankings of large urban districts.
Growing up black or Hispanic in the United States today means high odds of living in concentrated poverty: in neighborhoods in which at least 40 percent of the residents are poor.
That our children attend schools that are segregated by race is probably not a surprise for any of us. While, as researchers, we might debate how consequential segregation is, we can likely agree that, on its face, segregation raises some important societal concerns; it challenges our sense of what a moral and fair system looks like.
Closing achievement gaps—disparities in academic achievement between minority and white students, and between low-income and higher-income students—has long been an unrealized goal of U.S.