White House cites Rob Fairlie’s research in annual economic report

professional portrait of Rob Fairlie
Economics Professor Rob Fairlie

Economics Professor Rob Fairlie’s research was cited in the 2023 Economic Report of the President, transmitted to Congress from the White House in March. Chapter five of the report focuses on “building stronger postsecondary institutions,” and a section on the benefits of college argues that reducing racial disparities in college attainment can help to address problems associated with underrepresentation in fields like teaching and medicine. As an example, the report mentions a 2014 research paper by Fairlie as evidence “that students benefit from exposure to instructors of the same race.” 

Fairlie’s prior paper, published in the American Economic Review, studied outcomes at a large, diverse community college over a five-year period. The research showed that performance gaps between white students and underrepresented minority students on measures like grades and class drop-out rates fell by 20 to 50 percent when courses were taught by an instructor from an underrepresented minority. There were also positive impacts on student retention and degree completion. 

Professor Fairlie often studies issues of racial and gender inequality in fields including entrepreneurship and education. His findings are frequently cited in media coverage and included in governmental reports, and he has provided expert testimony before Congress on multiple occasions.