Gema Zamarro

Photo of Gema Zamarro
Adjunct Economist
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in economics, CEMFI (Central Bank of Spain foundation)


Gema Zamarro is an adjunct economist at the RAND Corporation, associate professor (tenured) and 21st Century Endowed Chair in Teacher Quality at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and director of the Character Assessment Initiatiative. She is also adjunct senior economist at the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR). Zamarro has conducted research on applied econometrics in the areas of education, labor, and health. She has completed studies on heterogeneity in returns to education, on the relationship between teacher quality and student performance, on the effect of school closing policies on student outcomes, and on the causal effect of retirement on health, among others.

Her current education research focuses on analyzing the effects of dual-language immersion (DLI) on student outcomes taking advantage of the lottery mechanism, which is used to enter these programs, to estimate causal effects. In addition, she is researching the properties of value-added methods for estimating teacher quality, the use and comparability of student self-reports on teacher performance and the measurement and development of non-cognitive abilities. Zamarro received her Ph.D. at CEMFI (Center for Monetary and Financial Studies) & UNED in Madrid, Spain.

Recent Projects

  • The intergenerational transmission of non-cognitive skills
  • Comparisons of student perceptions on teacher's classroom management
  • Defining and estimating value-added models in higher education
  • Teacher quality and student performance
  • Retirement effects on health

Selected Publications

G. Zamarro, J. Engberg, J. Saavedra & J. Steele., "Can We Distinguish Good Teaching from Classroom Composition?" Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 8(1):84-111, 2015

R. Fonseca, A. Kapteyn, J. Lee, G. Zamarro & K. Feeney, "A Longitudinal Study of Well-being of Older Europeans: Does Retirement Matter?" Journal of Population Ageing, 7:21-41, 2014

A. Kapteyn, J. Lee, C. Tassot, H. Vonkova & G. Zamarro, "Dimensions of Subjective Wellbeing," Social Indicators Research, 2014

J. Engberg, B. Gill, G. Zamarro & R. Zimmer, "Closing Schools in a Shrinking District: Do Student Outcomes Depend on Which Schools are Closed?" Journal of Urban Economics, 71:189-203, 2012

R. Fonseca, K. J. Mullen, G. Zamarro & J. Zissimopoulos, "What Explains the Gender Gap in Financial Literacy? The Role of Household Decision-Making," Journal of Consumer Affairs, 2012

Norma B. Coe & Gema Zamarro, "Retirement Effects on Health in Europe," Journal of Health Economics, 30:77-86, 2011

Gema Zamarro, "Accounting for Heterogeneous Returns in a Sequential Model for Schooling Decisions," Journal of Econometrics, (156):260-276, 2010

Richard Buddin & Gema Zamarro, "Teacher Qualifications and Student Achievement in Urban Elementary Schools," Journal of Urban Economics, (66):103-115, 2009

Honors & Awards

  • Prize for the first-rank student obtaining a degree in economics in the year 2000, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
  • Ph.D. in economics cum laude (2006), UNED