Jens Ludwig is the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at the University of Chicago, Director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and Co-Director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab. He is an economist who works on urban policy challenges related to crime, education, poverty, housing and health. In addition to his positions at University of Chicago, Ludwig is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); co-director of the NBER's working group on the economics of crime; and nonresident senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

For the past 15 years, Ludwig has been involved in the study of a large-scale social experiment carried out by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Moving to Opportunity (MTO), which via random lottery offered families in public housing the chance to use a housing voucher to move to less disadvantaged neighborhoods. He has also carried out research on early childhood interventions like Head Start, the effects of social conditions on children’s schooling outcomes and risk of violence involvement, and on ways of preventing gun violence. His research has been published in leading peer-reviewed academic journals across a wide range of scientific disciplines, including Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the American Journal of Public Health, and the American Journal of Sociology. He is also coauthor with Philip Cook of Gun Violence: The Real Costs (Oxford; 2000) coeditor with Cook of Evaluating Gun Policy (Brookings, 2003) and coeditor with Cook and Justin McCrary of Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs (University of Chicago, 2011).

In 2008, Ludwig helped found the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which partners with local, state, and federal government agencies to carry out randomized policy experiments to learn more about how to prevent youth violence and closely related social problems such as high school dropout. The Crime Lab recently received a $1 million award from the MacArthur Foundation as recognition for effectiveness and creativity – the organizational equivalent of the Macarthur “genius prize” for individuals. Crime Lab research has already helped shape policy in Chicago with projects that have helped identify cost-effective ways to prevent youth from dropping out or becoming involved in violence, which have received national news coverage in, among other outlets, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and NPR.

In 2006 Ludwig received the David Kershaw Prize from the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management for distinguished contributions to public policy by age 40. In 2012 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.