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Maria Fitzpatrick


Maria Fitzpatrick

M Van Rensselaer Hall, Room 3216

Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2008



Maria Donovan Fitzpatrick is an Associate Professor in the Department of Policy and Management, Milman Fellow at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  She is also an Affiliate in the CESifo Research Network, the Cornell Populations Center, the Center for the Study of Inequality, and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.  Her main area of focus is the economics of education.  Specifically her research focuses on early childhood education policies, higher education and teacher compensation, benefits and labor supply.

Before arriving at Cornell, Maria Fitzpatrick was a Searle Freedom Trust postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Economic Policy Research at Stanford University.  She received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia, where she was both an Institute for Education Sciences and Spencer Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow.  She obtained her B.A. in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Since being at Cornell, she spent one year as a visiting scholar at the National Bureau of Economics Research.

Graduate Fields

  • Policy Analysis and Managment
  • Economics


In her research, Dr. Fitzpatrick focuses on four broad themes:

Early childhood education policies:  Recent decades have seen increased interest in early childhood education and care programs as a way to promote children's development and family well-being.  This increased interest has led to increased government intervention of various forms, from regulation to government provision.  Fitzpatrick's work has examined the effects of government provision of early childhood education (namely universal pre-k) on children's long-term academic achievement and family decision making about child care use and parental labor supply.  More recently, Fitzpatrick and her colleagues are examining the effects of both government provision in and regulation of the early childhood care industry on the supply side (workers and firms) of the industry.

Higher education: Human capital investment provides protection against labor market risk and uncertainty. Designing and implementing efficient polciies for encouraging and subsidizing postsecondary enrollment and attainment is crucial for effectively improving workforce qualtiy.  With colleagues, Fitzpatrick has examined the efficiency and long run effects of merit aid programs, which offer scholarships for in-state postsecondary attandence.

Teacher labor markets:  The quality of children's schooling experiences has been closely linked to the quality of the individuals students receive as teachers.  Many local, state and federal policies are putting increased focus towards improving schools while the recent downturn has put the fiscal decisions of the public sector under close scrutiny.  Understanding how teachers make decisions about where to work and how long to work, particularly in response to their government provided wages and benefits, is therefore an imperative.  Fitzpatrick's work has focused on whether public school employees value their retirement benefits at the same level it costs taxpayers to provide them.  She is investigating how incentives between state and local governments that arise implicitly in the structure of teacher compensation affect the pattern of teacher wages.  With colleagues, she has also examined how responsive teachers are to retirement incentives and what effect the removal of senior teachers has on children's academic achievement.

Retirement and health:  There is enormous interest in the effect of retirement on health, especially given the aging of the population and reforms to retirement policies underway in the United States and other developed countries. However, the interdependence between health outcomes and retirement status, which commonly leads individuals in poorer health to retire earlier, means that it is difficult to disentangle this relationship.  With Tim Moore, I contribute to this literature by examining how mortality changes in the U.S. at age 62, when most individuals become eligible for Social Security Retirement and Survivors Insurance (“Social Security”). We find that mortality increases most at age 62 for those that are most likely to leave the workforce, leading us to conclude that, for men, deciding to retire at age 62 may have negative consequences for their health.