John Engberg

Photo of John Engberg
Senior Economist
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D., M.S. in economics, University of Wisconsin–Madison; B.A. in economics, Harvard University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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John Engberg is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation. He specializes in applied statistical methods and microeconomics. Engberg's research spans the areas of education, health, labor markets, economic development, and crime. One theme that connects much of this work is the analysis of data that contain temporal and spatial dependencies; his evaluation of the impact of state enterprise zone programs on local housing and labor markets and his analysis of public school teachers' collective bargaining contracts exemplify this.

Engberg's ongoing projects include an evaluation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Intensive Partnership for Effective Teaching Initiative, a research study of the Wallace Foundation's Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative, and two randomized control trials of education programs. These RCTs include evaluations of a restorative practices K-12 behavioral program and a new method for screening applicants for an advanced manufacturing training program delivered by a community college.  

Prior to joining RAND, Engberg was an associate professor of economics at the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. He also served as the research director of the Carnegie Mellon Census Data Research Center, one of only a few places in the United States where researchers can obtain access to confidential census data. 

Engberg earned his Ph.D. in labor economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Previous Positions

Associate Professor of Economics, Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University; Research Director, Carnegie Mellon Census Research Data Center

Recent Projects

  • Urban education reorganization and reform
  • Caregiver turnover and quality of care in nursing homes and home care
  • Human resources innovations for effective teaching
  • Pittsburgh Public Schools principal pay for performance
  • Public school performance measures

Selected Publications

Engberg J, Epple D, Imbrogno J, Sieg H, Zimmer R, "Evaluating Education Programs That Have Lotteried Admission and Selective Attrition," Journal of Labor Economics, 32(1), 2013

Engberg J, Gill B, Zamarro G, Zimmer R, "Closing Schools in a Shrinking District: Do Student Outcomes Depend on Which Schools are Closed?" Journal of Urban Economics, 0(1), 2012

Castle NG, Engberg J, Lave JR, "Factors Associated with Increasing Nursing Home Closures," Health Services Research, 44(3), 2009

Engberg J, Morral A, "Reducing Substance Use Improves Adolescents’ School Attendance," Addiction, 0(101), 2006

Babcock L, Engberg J, Greenbaum R, "Wage Spillovers in Public Sector Contract Negotiations: The Importance of Social Comparisons," Regional Science and Urban Economics, 35(4), 2005

Greenbaum R, Engberg J, "The Impact of State Enterprise Zones on Urban Manufacturing Establishments," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 23(2), 2004

Engberg J, Scharf DM, Lovejoy SL, Yu H, Tharp-Taylor S, Evaluation of the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Program: Progress through 2011, RAND Corporation (TR-1261-ATSC), 2012

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Commentary: Education Week


  • Grade school students working at their desks in a classroom

    Pittsburgh Schools Are Making Progress

    Pittsburgh Public Schools can reach new levels of excellence if its leadership boldly and wisely chooses initiatives that will serve all children and if it uses data to decide which initiatives should continue.

    Jul 11, 2016 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • A young student sitting outside in a school corridor

    Rethinking Student Discipline and Zero Tolerance

    Restorative practices are an alternative to zero-tolerance school discipline policies. Rather than mandating prescribed punishments for specific misbehaviors, this more tailored approach aims to empower students.

    Oct 14, 2015 Education Week

  • A teacher talking to a student at his desk

    Flexibility Is Key in Administration's Call for Teacher Equity Plans

    Metrics like teacher experience and licensure reveal little about teachers' impact on student learning. The focus should be on disadvantaged students' access to effective teachers.

    Aug 22, 2014 The RAND Blog

  • A principal talking to a student and his parent in her office

    School Principals Respond to Performance-Based Evaluation System

    It's fair to say the program turned out to be an important step for the district in the context of its overall reform plan considering how important high-quality school leadership is for improving teaching and learning, write Laura Hamilton and John Engberg.

    Aug 15, 2012 The RAND Blog