Helen F. Ladd

Helen F. Ladd

Professor Emeritus of Economics

External Address: 
238 Rubenstein Hall, Box 90132, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90312, Durham, NC 27708-0312
(919) 613-7352

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.   


  • Ph.D., Harvard University 1974

Ladd, H. F., and J. D. Singleton. “The fiscal externalities of charter schools: Evidence from North Carolina.” Education Finance and Policy 15, no. 1 (January 1, 2020): 191–208. https://doi.org/10.1162/edfp_a_00272. Full Text

Ladd, H. F. “EXPERIMENTATION FALLS SHORT AS A JUSTIFICATION FOR MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 38, no. 4 (September 1, 2019): 1074–76. https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.22165. Full Text

Ladd, H. F. “HOW CHARTER SCHOOLS THREATEN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 38, no. 4 (September 1, 2019): 1063–71. https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.22163. Full Text

Clotfelter, C. T., S. W. Hemelt, and H. F. Ladd. “Raising the bar for college admission: North Carolina’s increase in minimum math course requirements.” Education Finance and Policy 14, no. 3 (July 1, 2019): 492–521. https://doi.org/10.1162/edfp_a_00258. Full Text

Brighouse, H., H. Ladd, S. Loeb, and A. Swift. “Good education policy making: Data-informed but values-driven.” Phi Delta Kappan 100, no. 4 (December 1, 2018): 36–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031721718815671. Full Text

Heissel, J. A., and H. F. Ladd. “School turnaround in North Carolina: A regression discontinuity analysis.” Economics of Education Review 62 (February 1, 2018): 302–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2017.08.001. Full Text

Fiske, E. B., and H. F. Ladd. “Self-governing schools, parental choice, and the need to protect the public interest.” Phi Delta Kappan 99, no. 1 (September 1, 2017): 31–36. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031721717728276. Full Text

Dodge, Kenneth A., Yu Bai, Helen F. Ladd, and Clara G. Muschkin. “Impact of North Carolina's Early Childhood Programs and Policies on Educational Outcomes in Elementary School.Child Development 88, no. 3 (May 2017): 996–1014. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12645. Full Text Open Access Copy


Fiske, Edward B., and Helen F. Ladd. Elusive Equity: Education reform in post-Apartheid New Zealand. Brookings Institution Press, 2004.

Fiske, Edward B., and Helen F. Ladd. When Schools Compete. Brookings Institution Press, 2001.

Fiske, Edward B., and Helen F. Ladd. When Schools Compete. Brookings Institution Press, 2001.

Fiske, Edward B., and Helen F. Ladd. When Schools Compete. Brookings Institution Press, 2001.

Ladd, Helen F., and John Yinger. America's Ailing Cities: Fiscal Health and the Design of Urban Policy. JHU Press, 1991.

Schafer, Robert, and Helen F. Ladd. Discrimination in Mortgage Lending. MIT Press (MA), 1981.

Ladd, H. F. “Self-governing schools, parental choice, and the public interest.” In School Choice at the Crossroads: Research Perspectives, 235–48, 2018. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351213318. Full Text

Bifulco, R., and H. F. Ladd. “Charter schools in North Carolina.” In Charter School Outcomes, 195–219, 2017. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315095806-11. Full Text

Ladd, H. F. “Confessions of a wellesley FEM.” In Eminent Economists II: Their Life and Work Philosophies, 249–69, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139629096.021. Full Text

Ladd, H. F., C. T. Clotfelter, and J. B. Holbein. “The growing segmentation of the charter school sector in North Carolina,” October 1, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1162/edfp_a_00226. Full Text

Clotfelter, Charles T., Helen F. Ladd, and Jacob L. Vigdor. “Algebra for 8th Graders: Evidence on its Effects from 10 North Carolina Districts,” December 2012.

Clotfelter, C., H. Ladd, and J. Vigdor. “How and Why Do Teacher Credentials Matter for Student Achievement?,” 2007.

Clotfelter, C. T., H. F. Ladd, and J. L. Vigdor. “Classroom-level segregation and resegregation in North Carolina,” 70–86, 2009.

Ladd, H. F. “The public sector - Commentary.” In National Urban Policy, edited by H. L. Wolman and E. J. Agius, 136–42. WAYNE STATE UNIV PRESS, 1996.

Clotfelter, C., C. Ladd, Helen, and C. Vigdor, Jacob. “Surprising Success Among Hispanic students.” Duke Today, June 12, 2006. Open Access Copy

Selected Grants

Factors in Persistence Versus Fadeout of Early Childhood Intervention Impacts awarded by National Institutes of Health (Investigator). 2019 to 2024

Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research - CALDER awarded by American Institutes for Research (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2019

Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research - CALDER awarded by American Institutes for Research (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2018

Exploring the Linkages Between Post-Secondary School and Labor Market Success awarded by American Institutes for Research (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2014

HUD Community Development Work Study Program awarded by Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (Senior Investigator). 2001 to 2003