Roland G. Fryer Jr.

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Roland Fryer
Roland Gerhard Fryer Jr.

(1977-06-04) June 4, 1977 (age 42)
OccupationEconomist, professor
AwardsMacArthur Fellowship (2011)
Calvó-Armengol Prize (2012)
John Bates Clark Medal (2015)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Arlington
Pennsylvania State University
ThesisMathematical Models of Discrimination and Inequality
Doctoral advisorTomas Sjöström
InfluencesGary Becker
Steven Levitt
Glenn Loury
Academic work
InstitutionsHarvard University (2006–present)

Roland Gerhard Fryer Jr. (born June 4, 1977) is an American economist. In 2007, at age 30, he became the youngest African-American to ever receive tenure at Harvard.[1]. In 2019, Fryer was suspended from Harvard for two years following sexual harassment claims. Harvard also stripped him off his honorary chaired 'Henry Lee Professor of Economics' professorship, demoting him to regular full professor instead.

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 conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago with Nobel laureate 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. 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][15]

Allegations of Sexual Harassment[edit]

Fryer faced complaints of sexual harassment in 2018. A Harvard investigation found that Fryer engaged in "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature" with female employees of his research lab.[16][17] Fryer resigned from the AEA Executive Committee in December following media reports of the investigation.[18][19] On July 10, 2019, the Boston Globe reported that Fryer has been suspended for two years without pay by Harvard after the university's Office for Dispute Resolution concluded that Fryer “engaged in unwelcome sexual conduct toward several individuals, resulting in the creation of a hostile work environment over the course of several years".[20][21]

Personal life[edit]

Fryer is married to Franziska Michor, a Harvard mathematician with a PhD in evolutionary biology. They met in 2006, as members of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He "courted her by betting a dinner date on whether he could find evidence that smoking reduces cancer; to her dismay, he sent her a report from the tobacco lobby." They have a 4 year old daughter.[22]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2008 The Economist listed Fryer as one of the top eight young economists in the world.[23] In 2011, Fryer was a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly referred to as a "Genius Grant".[24] 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."[25]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ 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. ^ Why it’s impossible to calculate the percentage of police shootings that are legitimate, Radley Balko, Washington Post, July 14, 2016
  16. ^ Tankersley, Jim; Casselman, Ben (2018-12-14). "Star Economist at Harvard Faces Sexual Harassment Complaints". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  17. ^ Novet, Jordan (2018-12-16). "Harvard professor Roland Fryer faces reports of sexual harassment". Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  18. ^ "American Economic Association". Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  19. ^ Tankersley, Jim; Casselman, Ben (2018-12-18). "Roland Fryer, Accused of Harassment at Harvard, Quits Economics Panel". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  20. ^ Levenson, Michael (July 10, 2019). "Harvard suspends star economist Roland Fryer following sexual harassment complaints". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  21. ^ Casselman, Ben; Tankersley, Jim (2019-07-10). "Harvard Suspends Roland Fryer, Star Economist, After Sexual Harassment Claims". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  22. ^ "Lunch with the FT: Roland Fryer", Financial Times
  23. ^ "International bright young things". The Economist. December 30, 2008.
  24. ^ "Roland Fryer, 2011 MacArthur Fellow",
  25. ^ "The John Bates Clark Medal goes to Roland Fryer". The Economist. 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2015-04-27.

External links[edit]