Duke Economics is pleased to welcome Jason Baron to the department. Baron is currently Scholar in Residence while completing a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. He will start as an Assistant Professor in the 2021-2022 school year.
Baron grew up in a small town in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. He moved to the United States with his family when he was fifteen years old. “My parents wanted to move to the United States to pursue a better future for our family. We had some family in Milwaukee so my father decided that Wisconsin would be a good starting spot. We moved to Green Bay in 2008,” said Baron.
Baron took his first economics class while attending University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. “My dream was to become an immigration lawyer and I had heard economics was a great subject to pursue before going to law school. I fell in love with economics after only a few weeks of taking the introductory class.” An econometrics professor introduced him to causal inference and the ability of economists to shed light on important public policy debates using empirical tools. It was during this class that Baron realized he wanted to do policy-relevant research. From there, he received his Ph.D. in Economics from Florida State University.
Baron describes himself as an applied microeconomist with research interests in the economics of education, public finance, and child welfare. He credits his time spent in public schools in Mexico with developing these interests. “Experiencing public education in the U.S. was shocking,” said Baron. “I could not believe the quality of the teachers, guidance counselors and other staff, and the school facilities. I immediately became very interested in the role that school funding plays in shaping academic success.” Currently, Baron is looking at the impacts of additional K-12 public school funding on the academic outcomes of public school students. “I firmly believe that public policy debates should be based on empirical evidence. Public policy directly impacts people’s lives, and particularly the lives of underserved children,” he said. His project during his year in Michigan studies the prevalence of child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency among Michigan youth, and the relationship between early contact with child welfare and juvenile justice agencies and academic outcomes.