Text-only version of this website Skip to content

McFarlin, Isaac, Jr.

Assistant Professor
School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

College of Education
University of Florida
100J Norman Hall
PO Box 117049
Gainesville, FL 32611
Phone: 352-273-4330
Fax: 352-846-2697

Research Biography

Isaac McFarlin is Assistant Professor of Education and Economics in the College of Education at the University of Florida. He is also Affiliate Assistant Professor of Economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His scholarship focuses on the economics of education, where he examines the role of public policies in reducing inequality in educational attainment and economic wellbeing.

Dr. McFarlin is evaluating the causes and consequences of public operating subsidies for community colleges on institutional responsiveness, individual college-going behavior, and societal outcomes. The study incorporates data from the U.S. Census Research Data Center and Texas Education Research Center programs.

Dr. McFarlin is also conducting research on the effectiveness of school facility infrastructure investments on student success. He is also currently collaborating on an evaluation to assess whether schools of choice may impede access to children who may be perceived as costly to educate. In other work, he is conducting an experimental analysis of the impact of a scholarship program on college choice and parental labor supply decisions.

Dr. McFarlin’s research has been published in economics journals such as the Review of Economics & Statistics and the Journal of Public Economics. His research is supported by several organizations, including the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education and Spencer, Smith Richardson, Russell Sage, and W.T. Grant foundations.

Prior to joining the University of Florida in 2016, Dr. McFarlin was faculty at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas – Dallas. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Northwestern University and B.A. in economics and mathematics from Boston University.


Ph.D. – Economics, Northwestern University, 2004

B.A. – Economics and Mathematics, Boston University, 1994

Key Professional Appointments

Affiliate Assistant Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Florida (2017–present)

Assistant Research Scientist, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan (2010–2015)

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Poverty Center, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan (2007–2009)

Assistant Professor of Economics, School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences, University of Texas-Dallas (2004–2007)

Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research (2017–present)

Research Associate, Texas Schools Project, University of Texas at Dallas (2002–present) 

Editorial Board, AERA Open (2014–present)

Special Sworn Status, U.S. Census Bureau (2010–present)

Selected Grants

Principal Investigator. Disadvantaged Students’ Access to Charter Schools. 2015-2016. Russell Sage Foundation.

Principal Investigator. On the Importance of School Facilities Spending on Student Outcomes, 2014-2017. U.S. Department of Education Research Grant R305A140363.

Principal Investigator. Causes and Consequences of Public Subsidies in Higher Education: Evidence from Community College Taxing Districts, 2010-2014. U.S. Department of Education Research Grant R305A100369.

Principal Investigator. On the Consequences of Public Subsidies in Higher Education: Evidence from Community College Districts, 2010-2015. Smith Richardson Foundation.

Selected Publications


“Does Student Effort Respond to Incentives?  Evidence from a Guaranteed College Admissions Program.” (with Lindsay Daugherty and Daniel Leeds). 2017. Research in Higher Education. 58(3): 231-243.

“Investing in Schools:  Capital Spending, Facility Conditions, and Student Achievement.” (with Paco Martorell and Kevin Stange). 2016. Journal of Public Economics. Vol. 140, pp. 13-29.

“Does Failing a Placement Exam Discourage Underprepared Students from Going to College?” (with Paco Martorell and Yu Xue). 2015. Education, Finance and Policy. 10(1): 46-80.

“Percent Plans, Automatic Admissions, and College Outcomes.” (with Lindsay Daugherty and Paco Martorell). 2014. IZA Journal of Labor Economics.

“Help or Hindrance? The Effects of College Remediation on Academic and Labor Market Outcomes.” (with Paco Martorell). 2011. Review of Economics and Statistics. 93(2): 436-454.

Selected Presentations

Invited Talks

Education for All? Evidence from an Audit Study of Charter Schools, (November 2016). NBER Labor Studies Meetings, Cambridge, MA.

Educational Opportunity for All? A Field Experiment on Discrimination in Public Schools of Choice. (May 2016). Education and Inequality in 21st Century America Conference, Stanford University Graduate School of Education.

Do Public Subsidies Promote College Access and Completion? Evidence from Community College Districts. (October 2015). Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Investing in Schools:  Capital Spending, Facility Conditions, and Student Achievement. (March 2014). School of Economics, University College – Dublin.

Percent Plans, Automatic Admissions, and College Outcomes. (November 2012). NBER Economics of Education Meetings, Washington, DC.

Media Mentions

Washington Examiner (September 9, 2015)

Education Week (January 15, 2015)

Houston Public Radio interview (April 22, 2014)

Wall Street Journal (February 5, 2011)

Selected Links

Personal Homepage