Henry M. Levin (1938 - )

Levin Henry M.

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Henry M. Levin is William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education and Co-Director of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education at Teachers College, David Jacks Professor of Higher Education and Economics, Emeritus, at Stanford University, and current President of the Comparative and International Education Society. A global figure in educational and economic scholarship with a distinguished career spanning nearly fifty years, Dr. Levin's positions and honors have included Director of the Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance at Stanford, Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behaviorial Sciences, Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, Guest Professor at Beijing University (to present), and Research Associate in Economics at the Brookings Institution. Levin has been elected to the National Academy of Education, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Educational Research Association, was Julius and Rosa Sachs Lecturer at Teachers College, Visiting Professor in the Economics Department of Bar Ilon University, Israel, Julius Wei Lun Visiting Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Fulbright Lecturer in the Department of Economics Universidad Metropolitana, Mexico. With specializations in economics of education, economics of human resources, urban economics, public finance, and education policy, Levin's work has included studies of cost-effectiveness in education, educational vouchers and charter schools, school finance, inequality and education, and higher education. Levin has published more than 20 books and nearly 300 articles on these and numerous other topics.

Dr. Levin is recognized widely for several milestones in educational research and practice including an article co-authored with Samuel Bowles in 1968 arguing that inadequate controls and inappropriate statistical techniques challenged many of the conclusions in the Coleman Report. In 1985, Levin co-authored with Martin Carnoy Schooling and Work in the Democratic State, a text that has become staple reading in many comparative education courses. In 1986, Levin started the Accelerated Schools program in which at-risk children forgo remedial instruction in favor of academic enrichment that is usually reserved for gifted and talented students. Third party evaluations conducted of Accelerated Schools have yielded encouraging findings. According to the summary of an MDRC report, ".the Accelerated Schools approach improved academic achievement in a group of mostly at-risk students." In 1991, Levin was named by the New York Times as one of nine national leaders in educational innovation. In 1999, in response to concerns that existing research on school privatization was problematic and insufficient, Levin established the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University to provide independent non-partisan information on and analysis of privatization in education. The Center's program includes a variety of resources on educational privatization of education, both national and international, from pre-school to higher education. At present, Levin is a member of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 Planning Committee and a contributor to PISA 2006 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris and a member of the Standing Committee on Background Variables of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

Professor Levin's dedication to the fields of education and comparative and international education is reflected not only in his research, educational initiatives, numerous awards, and positions, but also in his enthusiasm and passion for teaching and fostering learning and creativity. Levin's courses at Teachers College are appreciated by students for their rigorous and illuminating content, informative and fascinating accounts of his consultancy work in various countries, screenings of a lively video debate between Levin and Milton Friedman on the topic of educational vouchers, and poetry readings prior to each class.


Faculty Website
National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education Teachers College, Columbia University 
Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University 

* Special thanks to Mr. Jonah Liebert for his initial ideas and input, and Dr. Levin for reviewing this entry.

Educational Background

Ph.D. Rutgers University, Department of Economics, January 1967

M.A. Rutgers University, Department of Economics, June 1962

B.S. Cum Laude, Marketing and Economics, New York University, June 1960

Professional Background

Since 2007 Co-Director of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Since 1999 William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Since 1999 Director, National Center for the Study for Privatization in Education. Since 1999 David Jacks Professor of Higher Education and Economics, Stanford University, Emeritus.

1996-97 Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation.

Since 1996 Guest Professor, Beijing University, PRC.

1986-2000 Founder and Director, Accelerated Schools Project.

1992-1999 David Jacks Professor of Higher Education and Economics, Stanford University.

1975-1999 Professor of Education and Affiliated Professor in Economics and Director, Center for Educational Research at Stanford, Stanford University.

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

2007-pres. Planning Committee, PISA2009, OECD, Paris.

2008-pres. Standing Committee on Background Variables, National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

2006-2009 Vice President, 2006; President-Elect 2007; President 2008; Comparative and International Education Society (CIES).

2003-pres. Scientific Advisory Board, National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

2003-05 Academic Senate, Columbia University.

Selected Publications


The Price We Pay: Economic and Social Consequences of Inadequate Education, Co-edited with C. Belfield (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution Press, 2007).

Privatizing Educational Choice: Consequences for Parents, Schools, and Public Policy with C. Belfield (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2005).

Education Privatization: Causes, Consequences, and Planning Implications with C. Belfield, Fundamentals of Educational Planning Series No. 74 (Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning of UNESCO, 2003).

Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: Methods and Applications, Vol. 2, with P. McEwan. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001).

Privatizing Education., ed (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001).

Effective Schools in Developing Societies, edited with M. Lockheed. (New York: Falmer Press, 1993).

Schooling and Work in the Democratic State, with M. Carnoy. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1985).


"Issues in Educational Privatization," In E. Fiske & H. Ladd (eds), Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy (New York: Routledge, 2007), pp. 391- 401.

"Educational Vouchers for Universal Pre-Schools," with Heather Schwartz, Economics of Education Review (February 2007), pp. 3-16.

"Vouchers and Public Policy: When Ideology Trumps Evidence," with Clive Belfield,American Journal of Education, Vol. 11 (August 2005), pp. 548-67.

"Opportunities of and Challenges to Educational Privatization in China," Peking University EducationReview, Vol 3, No. 1 (January 2005), pp. 5-10.

"A Comprehensive Framework for the Evaluation of Educational Vouchers," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Fall 2002), pp. 159-74.

"Pedagogical Changes for Educational Futures of Industrializing Countries,"Comparative Education Review, Vol. 45, No. 4 (November 2001), pp. 537-560.

"Accelerated Schools: A Decade of Evolution," In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, and D. Hopkins, (eds.), International Handbook of Education Change, (Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998), 807-830.

"The Determinants of Scholastic Achievement-An Appraisal of Some Recent Evidence," with S. Bowles. Journal of Human Resources. (Winter 1968), 1-24. Brooking Reprint No. 145.


Created: 8/21/2008

Updated: 8/21/2008

Contributed By: Stephen Chemsak, Teachers College, Columbia University