Julian R. Betts

Prof. Julian R. Betts

Professor of Economics, University of California, San Diego

Julian Betts is a Professor in (and former Chair of) the Department of Economics at the University of California, San Diego.  He is also the Executive Director of the San Diego Education Research Alliance at UCSD (sandera.ucsd.edu), a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Bren Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

His research focuses on the economics of education. He has written extensively on the link between student outcomes and measures of public school spending including class size, teachers' salaries, and teachers' level of education.  He has also examined the role that standards and expectations play in student achievement.  Examples of his work include a theoretical analysis of the impact of educational standards published in the American Economic Review (1998),  the book “Taking Measure of Charter Schools:  Better Assessments, Better Policymaking, Better Schools,” co-edited with Paul Hill, the book “Getting Choice Right: Ensuring Equity and Efficiency in Education Policy” (Brookings Institution Press 2005) co-edited with Tom Loveless, and the co-authored books “Predicting Success, Preventing Failure: An Investigation of the California High School Exit Exam” (PPIC 2008),  “Does School Choice Work?” (PPIC 2006), “From Blueprint to Reality: San Diego’s Education Reforms” (PPIC 2005), “Determinants of Student Achievement: New Evidence from San Diego” (PPIC 2003) and  “Equal Resources, Equal Outcomes?  The Distribution of School Resources and Student Achievement in California” (PPIC, 2000).   Current research includes studies of school choice, California’s Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project, and San Diego’s controversial Blueprint for Student Success.

His other main areas of research include higher education; immigration; technology, skills, and the labor market; and the economics of unions.

Betts is Principal Investigator on a multi-year study of magnet elementary schools funded by the U.S. Department of Education.  This project, which is examining the impact of magnet schools on the achievement of both local and non-local enrollees, is  joint with the American Institutes of Research (AIR) and Berkeley Policy Associates  (BPA). He was also Principal Investigator of a three-year study for the U.S. Department of Education of the effects of career and technical education on students’ academic trajectories.  Betts has served on two National Academy of Sciences panels, including (from 2005-2008) the congressionally mandated “Committee on Evaluation of Teacher Certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)”.  Betts became a council member of the California Council on Science and Technology in 2007.  Betts has also served on several technical review panels for the U.S. Department of Education, and the national advisory committees for the National Charter School Research Center at the University of Washington.  In 2001-2003 Betts served on the National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education.   He is a member of the editorial board of Education Finance and Policy, published by MIT Press.

At UCSD Betts is a professor in the Department of Economics, where he served as Department Chair from 2008 through 2011.  Within the Department of Economics Betts has also served as Computing Director and more recently as Vice Chair, Graduate Studies, for the Department between 2004 and 2007.  Betts was a member of the UCSD Admissions Committee from 1999 to 2003, serving as both Chair and Vice Chair in various years.  In 2001 he served on the University’s Gender Equity Taskforce. Between 1999 and 2008 he also served on the Board of Directors of the Preuss School at UCSD, a
charter school on the UCSD campus that admits disadvantaged students from the local area.  Betts also serves as UCSD campus director of the UC Educational Evaluation Center.

Betts obtained a Bachelor's degree in chemistry from McGill University, the M.Phil. in economics from Oxford University, Oxford, England, and a Ph.D. in economics from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

  • Ph.D. Queens University, 1990


A person listed as a contributor has spoken or otherwise participated in Federalist Society events, publications, or multimedia presentations. A person's appearance on this list does not imply any other endorsement or relationship between the person and the Federalist Society. In most cases, the biographical information on a person's "contributor" page is provided directly by the person, and the Federalist Society does not edit or otherwise endorse that information. The Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues. All expressions of opinion by a contributor are those of the contributor.