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Faculty & Research

Richard J. Murnane

Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Research Professor of Education and Society

Richard J. Murnane

Degree:  Ph.D., Yale University, (1974)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.496.4820
Vitae/CV:   Richard J. Murnane.pdf
Office:  Gutman 406B
Faculty Coordinator:  Wendy Angus


Richard Murnane, an economist, is the Thompson Research Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. With Greg Duncan, Murnane has examined the respects in which the growth in family income inequality in the U.S. has affected educational opportunities for children from low-income families and the effectiveness of alternative strategies for improving life chances for these children. This project has resulted in two major publications: the 2011 edited volume, Whither Opportunity, and the 2014 book, Restoring Opportunity. One of Murnane's current research projects (with Stanford sociologist Sean Reardon) examines whether trends in the use of different types of private schools by low- and higher-income families contributed to the recent increase in income-based gaps in educational outcomes. Another (with John Willett and Emiliana Vegas) examines how changes in the system of educational vouchers in Chile have influenced the distribution of students across schools and the distribution of student achievement.

Areas of Expertise

Russell Sage

Spencer, Smith Richardson, and Hewlitt


Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning (co-editor with Kathryn Parker Boudett and Elizabeth A. City, (Harvard Education Press, Fall 2005)

The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Changing the Way We Work (Princeton University Press and Russell Sage Foundation, 2004) (with Frank Levy)

Low-Wage America (co-editor with Eileen Appelbaum and Annette Bernhardt), Russell Sage Foundation (2003).

Upstairs, Downstairs: Computers and Skills on Two Floors of a Large Bank,” (with David Autor and Frank Levy), Industrial and Labor Relations Review (2002)

"Information Technology and Skill Requirements: Examples from a Car Dealership," (with Anne Beamish and Frank Levy), in F. Rauner, N. Schreier, G. Sp⎯ttl (eds.) The Future of Computer-Supported Diagnosis (Germany: W. Bertelsmann Verlag), 2002, 133-159.

"Can the Internet Help Solve America's Education Problems: Lessons from the Cisco Networking Academies," (with Nancy Sharkey and Frank Levy) National Research Council (in press), in P. Graham and N. Stacey (eds.) The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education, The Committee on the Impact of the Changing Economy on the Postsecondary Education System (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002).

"Will Standards-Based Educational Reforms Improve Education for Children of Color?" (with Frank Levy), National Tax Journal (June 2001).

"Key Competencies Critical to Economic Success," (with Frank Levy), in D. Rychen and L. Salganik (eds.) Defining and Selecting Key Competencies (Seattle, WA: Hogrefe & Huber Publishers, 2001).

"From High School to Teaching: Many Steps. Who Makes It?" (with Emiliana Vegas and John B. Willett), Teachers College Record, 103(June 2001)3, 427-449.

"Do the Cognitive Skills of Dropouts Matter in the Labor Market?" (with John H. Tyler and John B. Willett) Journal of Human Resources . 82(Feb. 2000)1, 23-37.

“Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED? Evidence from High School and Beyond,” (with John H. Tyler and John B. Willett), Review of Economics and Statistics (February 2000).

“Second Chance Strategies for Women Who Drop Out of School,” (with Kathryn Boudett and John Willett), Monthly Labor Review, December 2000.

“Estimating the Labor Market Signaling Value of the GED,” (with John H. Tyler and John B. Willett), Quarterly Journal of Economics 115(May 2000)2, 431-468.

“Do Male Dropouts Benefit from Obtaining a GED,Post-Secondary Education and Training?” (with John B. Willett and Kathryn P. Boudett), Evaluation Review (October 1999).

"Does Acquisition of a GED Lead to More Training, Post-Secondary Education, and Military Service for School Dropouts?," in Industrial and Labor Relations Review (Vol. 51, No. 1, October 1997) (with John B. Willett and Kathryn Parker Boudett), pp. 100-116.

Teaching the New Basic Skills (The Free Press, 1996) (with Frank Levy).

Who Will Teach? Policies that Matter (Harvard University Press, 1991) (with Judith Singer, John Willett, James Kemple, and Randall Olsen).

Improving Indicators of the Quality of Science and Mathematics Education in Grades K-12 (National Academy Press, 1988) (co-editor with Senta Raizen).

The Impact of School Resources on the Learning of Inner City Children (Ballinger, 1975).


Member, Board of Directors, National Academy of Education,(2001-present)

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management,(2000-present)

Member, Editorial Board, American Educational Research Journal,(1999-present)

Member, Editorial Board, American Journal of Education,(1998-present)

Member, Editorial Board, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis,(1997-present)

Member, Board of Directors, Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation,(1993-present)

Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research,(1993-present)

Member, Editorial Board, Economics of Education Review,(1990-present)

Member, National Academy of Education,(1990-present)

Member, Advisory Board of Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council,(1999-2005)

Member, Policy Council, Association of Public Policy and Management,(2000-2003)

Advisory Council on Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education,(1998-2001)

Chair, Center for Education Advisory Board, National Research Council

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