Roland G. Fryer Jr.

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Roland Fryer
Born Roland Gerhard Fryer Jr.
(1977-06-04) June 4, 1977 (age 41)
Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.
Occupation Economist, professor
Awards MacArthur Fellowship (2011)
Calvó-Armengol Prize (2012)
John Bates Clark Medal (2015)
Academic background
Alma mater University of Texas at Arlington
Pennsylvania State University
Thesis Mathematical Models of Discrimination and Inequality
Doctoral advisor Tomas Sjöström
Influences Gary Becker
Steven Levitt
Glenn Loury
Academic work
Institutions Harvard University (2006–present)

Roland Gerhard Fryer Jr. (born June 4, 1977) is an American economist who is currently the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2007, at age 30, he became the youngest African-American to ever receive tenure at Harvard.[1]

Fryer is the recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Fellow and the 2015 John Bates Clark Medal.

Early life and education[edit]

Fryer grew up in Lewisville, Texas, where he had moved with his abusive father at the age of 4. Attending Lewisville High School, he starred in football and basketball, earning an athletic scholarship from the University of Texas at Arlington. However, he never actually played for the Texas–Arlington Mavericks; instead he decided to embrace academics, joining the Honors College, whose dean helped find him an academic scholarship.[2] He graduated magna cum laude in 1998 after two and a half years while holding down a full-time job.[3] Fryer completed his Ph.D. in economics from Penn State in 2002. He also conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago with economist Gary Becker. Fryer has collaborated with several other academics, including Steven Levitt, the University of Chicago economist and author of Freakonomics, Glenn Loury, a Brown University economist, and Edward Glaeser, an urban economist at Harvard.

Upon completing a three-year fellowship with the Harvard Society of Fellows at the end of the 2005–2006 academic year, Fryer joined Harvard's economics department as an assistant professor. In 2005, Fryer was also selected as one of the first Fletcher Foundation Fellows.

Academic career[edit]

He maintains offices at the National Bureau of Economic Research and W. E. B. Du Bois Institute. In 2007, at age 30, he became the youngest African-American to ever receive tenure at Harvard.[1] He was named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow[4] and received the 2015 John Bates Clark Medal.[5] Fryer is widely regarded to be one of black America and Harvard's rising stars, having published numerous economics-related papers in prominent academic journals over the past few years.[6] The New York Times ran an extensive profile of Fryer, entitled "Toward a Unified Theory of Black America," in March 2005 that dealt extensively with Fryer's rough upbringing: Fryer's mother left when he was very young, and his father, who beat his son, was convicted of rape,[7] effectively leaving Fryer to fend for himself. Fryer became a "full fledged gangster by his teens".[8]

Recently, Fryer has begun work on the Opportunity NYC project, which will study how students in low-performing schools respond to financial incentives.[9] Fryer is currently working as the CEO of the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University.[10]

In 2016, Fryer published a paper concluding that although minorities (African Americans and Hispanics) are more likely to experience police use of force than whites, they were not more likely to be shot by police than whites.[11] The study generated considerable controversy and criticism.[12][13][14]

In May 2018, The Harvard Crimson reported that Fryer was facing investigations by school and state officials for at least two Title IX complaints of sexual harassment. Fryer was barred from entering EdLabs, the research lab that he founded on campus. In a statement to the Crimson, Fryer denied the allegations, writing that he did not "engage in any discrimination or harassment of any form."[15]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2008 The Economist listed Fryer as one of the top eight young economists in the world.[16] In 2011, Fryer was a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly referred to as a "Genius Grant".[17] He is the recipient of the 2015 John Bates Clark Medal, awarded by the American Economic Association to "that American economist under the age of forty who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge."[18]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ a b Roland Fryer, "Curriculum Vitae"
  2. ^ Becky Purvis, "Ivy League Maverick", UTA Magazine, 2005.
  3. ^ "Roland G. Fryer." Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 56. Thomson Gale, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. Document Number: K1606003406. Fee. Accessed 2009-12-20 via Fairfax County Public Library.
  4. ^ "MacArthur Fellows Program: Meet the 2011 Fellows". September 20, 2011. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Harvard's Roland Fryer Wins John Bates Clark Medal". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  6. ^ Dubner, Stephen J (2005-03-20). "Toward a Unified Theory of Black America". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  7. ^ "Fryer interview with Tavis Smiley". The Tavis Smiley Show. PBS. March 30, 2005. 
  8. ^ Levitt & Dubner, Freakonomics, 2009
  9. ^ Medina, Jennifer (June 21, 2007). "His Charge: Find a Key to Student's Success". New York Times. 
  10. ^ The Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University.
  11. ^ Fryer, Roland G. Jr. (July 2016). "An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force". NBER Working Paper No. 22399. doi:10.3386/w22399. 
  12. ^ LaCapria, Kim (15 July 2016). "A 'Harvard Study' Doesn't Disprove Racial Bias in Officer-Involved Shootings". Snopes. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  13. ^ Li, Rosa (15 July 2016). "The Research Is Only As Good As the Data". Slate. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  14. ^ Bui, Quotcrung; Cox, Amanda (12 July 2016). "Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings". New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  15. ^ Avi-Yonah, Shera; Fu, Angela (22 May 2018). "Star Economics Prof Fryer Facing Harvard and State-Level Investigations, Barred from Lab He Heads". The Harvard Crimson (in English). Retrieved 8 June 2018. 
  16. ^ "International bright young things". The Economist. December 30, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Roland Fryer, 2011 MacArthur Fellow",
  18. ^ "The John Bates Clark Medal goes to Roland Fryer". The Economist. 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2015-04-27. 

External links[edit]