Jens Ludwig

Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor


Jens Ludwig is the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, Pritzker Director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, codirector of the Education Lab, and codirector of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s working group on the economics of crime.

His current work focuses on how behavioral science and data science can help solve social problems. He helped found the Crime Lab and the Education Lab to work closely with government agencies to turn these insights into social change out in the real world. Examples of real-world impact include studies of promising social and educational programs that have led to millions of dollars of public sector resources being re-allocated to more effective, evidence-based strategies, working with the Chicago Police Department to implement data-driven management changes that helped substantially reduce gun violence without increasing arrests, and partnership with the Mayor’s Office in New York City to help build and implement a new pretrial risk tool as part of the city’s goal to close Riker’s Island.

Crime Lab and Education Lab projects have been featured in national news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, PBS News Hour, and National Public Radio. In 2014, the Crime Lab was the recipient of a $1 million MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, the organizational equivalent of the foundation’s “genius prize.” Ludwig’s research has been published in leading scientific journals in numerous disciplines, including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of EconomicsScience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the American Journal of Sociology. He is coauthor with Philip Cook of Gun Violence: The Real Costs (Oxford University Press, 2000), coeditor with Cook of Evaluating Gun Policy (Brookings Institution Press, 2003), and coeditor with Cook and Justin McCray of Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Ludwig received his BA in economics from Rutgers College and his MA and PhD in economics from Duke University. He was previously a professor of public policy at Georgetown University. He is currently on the editorial board of the American Economic Review. In 2012 he was elected vice president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM). In 2006 he was awarded APPAM’s David N. Kershaw Prize for Contributions to Public Policy by Age 40. In 2012 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science.