Jackson is a labor economist who studies education and social policy issues. He has analyzed several important aspects of education policy such as the importance of public school funding on student outcomes through adulthood, the effects of college-preparatory programs on students’ college and labor market outcomes, the effects of educational tracking on students’ academic achievement, and the effects of single-sex education on students’ academic performance. The bulk of Jackson’s work, however, has focused on better understanding teacher labor markets: His extensive work on teachers analyzes the role of peer learning in teacher effectiveness, how student demographics directly affect the distribution of teacher quality across schools, how a teacher’s effectiveness depends on the schooling context within which they operate, how best to measure teacher quality, and other related topics.
Jackson’s scholarly articles have appeared in leading economics journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Journal, Journal of Labor Economics, The Review of Economics and Statistics, and The Journal of Human Resources. His research has been featured in a number of mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and others. Jackson’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Smith Richardson Foundation, and other organizations. Currently, Jackson serves as an editor of The Journal of Human Resources, serves on the American Economic Association's committee on the status of minority groups in the economics profession, and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Jackson earned his bachelor’s degree in ethics, politics, and economics from Yale University in 1998 and his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 2007. He was assistant professor of labor economics at Cornell University between 2007 and 2010, and then moved to Northwestern University where he subsequently earned tenure in 2012.