Greetings! I am currently serving at the U.S. Department of Education as Senior Advisor for the Office of the Undersecretary, Office of the Chief Economist. I am a labor economist and a Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute's Center on Education Data and Policy. I hold a PhD in economics from the University of California Berkeley.

You can download my CV here. Email: TMonarrez@urban.org

Primary Fields

Labor Economics

Economics of Education

Urban Economics

Work in Progress

"Inequality in Student Loan Repayment Outcomes and Economic Downturns" , since 2022, joint with Michael Collins and Jordan Matsudaira


"Competition in Higher Education Markets and Federal Student Loan Borrowing Limits" , since 2022, joint with Lesley Turner and Jordan Matsudaira


"Fiscal, Demographic, and Academic Impacts of School District Secessions" , since 2021, joint with Barbara Biasi, Julien Lafortune, and David Schonholzer


"The Effect of School Redistricting on Housing Markets" , since 2021, joint with David Schonholzer

Abstract: Public school quality, as proxied by average student test scores, is closely linked to real estate prices and residential sorting patterns. At the same time, school boards make changes to school attendance boundary maps often, which may have sizable impacts on housing market equilibrium. This study will leverage a national level panel dataset of attendance boundary maps and data on individual house prices to generate event study-based estimates of the average effect of school redistricting on housing markets. We will document the impact of different types of redistricting: (1) changes that move homes from low to high test score schools (and vice versa), and (2) changes that lead to greater (lower) interaction with historically underserved groups.

"The Efficacy of Universal Preschool in Washington DC", since 2021, joint with Erica Greenberg and Breno Braga. (Policy Report)

Abstract: We evaluate the efficacy of the District of Columbia’s large-scale 3-year-old PreK program. Average causal impacts of program participation are obtained by leveraging a centralized admissions lottery that randomly matches some children with seats in the program and places others on a waiting list. We implement the Deferred Acceptance (DA) propensity score method of Abdulkadiroglu et al. (Econometrica, 2017) in a 2SLS framework to make efficient use of all random variation generated by the lottery. We will examine the impacts of 3-year-old PreK on key academic outcomes, using assessments administered by the study team via primary data collection.

Published Papers

"The Effect of Charter Schools on School Segregation" with Brian Kisida and Matthew Chingos. 2022. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. Vol. 14(1): 1-42. https://doi.org/10.1257/pol.20190682 (PDF)

Abstract: We examine the impact of the expansion of charter schools on racial segregation in public schools, defined using multiple measures of racial sorting and isolation. Our research design utilizes between-grade differences in charter expansion within school systems, and an instrumental variables approach leveraging charter school openings. Charter schools modestly increase school segregation for Black, Hispanic, Asian, and White students. On average, charters have caused a 6% decrease in the relative likelihood of Black and Hispanic students being exposed to schoolmates of other racial or ethnic groups. For metropolitan areas, our analysis reveals countervailing forces, as charters reduce segregation between districts.


"School Attendance Boundaries and the Segregation of Schools in the US," (PDF), (VOX Coverage), (NYT coverage), Forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Abstract: School segregation is determined by residential sorting, but also by policy choices such as the drawing of school boundaries and the choice of school site locations. This paper develops a new approach to understanding the importance of each of these factors by combining detailed census data with boundary maps for nearly 1,600 school districts accounting for more than half of national enrollment. I find that residential segregation explains more than 100 percent of school segregation. On net, school attendance boundaries create 5 percent more integration than a distance-minimizing baseline. School site choice plays almost no role. Local governments on average act to mitigate school segregation, although their impact is small compared to residential choice.


Working Papers

"Dividing Lines: Racial Segregation Across Local Government Boundaries ", 2022, joint with David Schonholzer. (PDF) (Policy Report) (Data Visualization Tool)

Abstract: We describe the empirical relationship between local government boundary lines and residential segregation in the US. First, we study recent changes in the distribution of segregation within and between local governments in metropolitan areas, using census block data on residential demographics over the period1990-2020. We find that segregation across local government boundaries explains an important share of racial stratification patterns in metropolitan areas, which hasn’t changed over the last thirty years. Next, we use spatial regression discontinuity methods to study the effect of jurisdictional boundaries on segregation. We find that boundaries have important impacts, indicating that between-jurisdiction segregation patterns cannot be explained solely by proximity to amenities. Heterogeneity in jurisdictional discontinuities is substantial, with the largest estimates concentrated in the Midwest. We discuss implications for policy and future research, showing that both between-jurisdiction segregation and jurisdictional discontinuities can partly explain the correlation between total segregation and racial gaps in educational outcomes.


"The Effect of State Higher Education Finance on College Enrollment and Degree Awards by Race", 2021, Working Paper, (PDF).

Abstract: A large share of financing for public colleges comes from state governments, whose budgets are closely tied to state economic conditions, which means that public colleges often take the brunt of unexpected revenue shortfalls.To understand how state financial decisions affect public colleges, we use longitudinal data on college enrollment and degree awards to assess the impact of state spending on higher education for Black, Hispanic, Asian, and white students. This paper examines the two main types of state spending on higher education: state programs for financial aid and state appropriations for public colleges. For financial aid programs, we leverage changes in the aid portfolios of 15 states between 2003 and 2017 to identify whether increases in aid spending raise enrollment and degree awards and whether outcomes suffer when aid funding decreases. For state appropriations—which fund public colleges’ operation costs—we study the impact of the secular decrease in appropriations dollars around the country and draw comparisons across colleges with varying historical dependence on this type of state funding. We find that state spending for higher education leads to increases in college enrollment and degree awards, specially for students of color.


"Closing the Immigrant-Native Higher Education Gap: The Effect of Tuition Equity Reform in Texas," Working Paper, 2016, (PDF).

Abstract: This paper estimates the impact of tuition equity reform on the educational outcomes of undocumented immigrant high school students. This type of reform, granting in-state tuition to qualifying undocumented students, can be interpreted as a partial relaxation of the institutional constraints associated with lack of legal immigration status. Exploiting administrative data from education agencies in Texas, I employ a generalized differences- in-differences framework to produce within-school, across-cohort estimates of the impact of the ’Texas Dream Act’ on a range of educational outcomes from college demand to college-bound investments during high school. Estimates show a significant closing of the college demand gap between immigrant and control group high school graduates. However, estimates regarding college-bound investments show mixed results. I attribute this to a complex policy environment in public high schools during the analysis period. Results suggest that affordable college access policies can have a significant impact on the attainment of the immigrant population at the college entrance stage, but that, given other policies in place, college tuition incentives down the educational ladder may not be sufficiently salient to generate spillover effects.