Director of CIPA & Associate Professor
292 Caldwell Hall
Ithaca, New York
Policy Analysis and Management
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research
Cornell Institute for Public Affairs


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.

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.

Fitzpatrick, Maria D. and Timothy Moore. 2018. “The Mortality Effects of Retirement: Evidence from Social Security Eligibility at Age 62.” Journal of Public Economics. 157: 121-37

Fitzpatrick, Maria D. 2017. “Pension-spiking, free-riding, and the effects of pension reform on teachers' earnings.” Journal of Public Economics. 148: 57-74.

Fitzpatrick, Maria D. and A. Damon Jones. 2016. “Higher Education, Merit-Based Scholarships and Post-Baccalaureate Migration.  Economics of Education Review.  54: 155-172.

Bassok, Daphna, Maria Fitzpatrick, Erica Greenberg and Susanna Loeb. 2016.  “The Extent of Within- and Between-Sector Quality Differences in Early Childhood Education and Care.” Child Development.  Vol 87(5): 1627-1645. Online version:  DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12551

Fitzpatrick, Maria D. 2015. “How Much Do Public School Teachers Value Their Pension Benefits?”  American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. 7(4): 165-88.

Bassok, Daphna, Maria D. Fitzpatrick, and Susanna Loeb. 2014. “Does State Preschool Crowd-Out Private Provision? The Impact of Universal Pre-Kindergarten on the Childcare Sector in Oklahoma and Georgia” with Daphna Bassok and Susanna Loeb. Journal of Urban Economics. 83: 18-33.

Fitzpatrick, Maria D. and Michael Lovenheim.  2014. “How Does Teacher Retirement Affect Student Achievement?” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.  6(3): 120-154.

Fitzpatrick, Maria D. 2014. “Retiree Health Insurance for Public School Employees: Does it Affect Retirement?” Journal of Health Economics. 38: 88-98.

Daphna Bassok, Maria D. Fitzpatrick, Susanna Loeb and Agustina Paglayan. 2013. “The Early Childhood Care and Education Workforce: Understanding Changes from 1990 through 2010” Education Finance and Policy. 8(4): 581-601.

Fitzpatrick, Maria D.  2012. “Revising Our Thinking about the Relationship between Maternal Labor Supply and Preschool.” Journal of Human Resources. 47: 583-612.

Fitzpatrick, Maria D., David Grissmer and Sarah Hastedt.  2011. “What a Difference a Day Makes: Estimating the Effects of Kindergarten on Children’s Test Scores.” Economics of Education Review. 30(2): 269-279.

Fitzpatrick, Maria D.  2010. "Preschoolers Enrolled and Mothers at Work? The Effects of Universal Pre-Kindergarten." Journal of Labor Economics. 28(1): 51-85.

Fitzpatrick, Maria D.  2008. "Starting School at Four: The Effect of Universal Pre-Kindergarten on Children's Academic Achievement," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy: Vol. 8: No. 1 (Advances), Article 46. Available at:


PAM 5010: Education Policy
PAM 6370: Microeconomics for Policy Analysis
PAM 6471: Economics of Education
PAM 2550: Waiting for Superman? Perspectives on the "Crisis" in American Education 

  • B.A., economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000
  • M.A., economics, University of Virginia, 2004
  • Ph.D., economics, University of Virginia, 2008