James Heckman

Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics
University of Chicago

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Chicago, where he has served since 1973. In 2000, he won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Heckman directs the Economics Research Center in the Department of Economics and the Center for Social Program Evaluation at the Harris School for Public Policy. In addition, he is Professor of Science and Society in University College Dublin and a Senior Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. His work has been devoted to the development of a scientific basis for economic policy evaluation. His recent research focuses on inequality, human development and lifecycle skill formation, with a special emphasis on the economics of early childhood. He is currently conducting new social experiments on early childhood interventions and reanalyzing old experiments. He is studying the emergence of the underclass in the U.S. and Western Europe. He has developed a body of new econometric tools that address these issues.

Heckman has published over 280 articles and several books. Heckman has received numerous awards for his work, including the John Bates Clark Medal in 1983, the Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005, the 2005 and 2007 Dennis Aigner Award for Applied Econometrics from the Journal of Econometrics, the Ulysses Medal from the University College Dublin in 2006, the 2007 Theodore W. Schultz Award from the American Agricultural Economics Association, the Gold Medal of the President of the Italian Republic, awarded by the International Scientific Committee of the Pio Manzú Centre in 2008, and the Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children Award from the Society for Research in Child Development in 2009. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA; a fellow of the American Philosophical Society; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Econometric Society; the Society of Labor Economics; the American Statistical Association; the International Statistical Institute; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and the National Academy of Education.

Heckman is past president of the Western Economics Association and the Midwest Economics Association and first vice-president and president-elect of the Econometric Society, the leading world-wide organization for the study and promotion of quantitative economics.

My Content

What’s missing in the current debate over economic inequality is enough serious discussion about investing in effective early childhood development from birth to age 5. This is not a big government boondoggle policy that would require a huge redistribution of wealth. Acting on it would, however, require us to rethink long-held notions of how we develop productive people and promote shared prosperity.

My Video Content

See video
The Jesuits used to argue that if they could get someone in their church by age five, they’d have them hooked for life.  
Nobel Laureate James Heckman doesn’t go quite so far in his ideas for early childhood education, but he does suggest that the years between birth to preschool are crucial in helping to boost IQ scores, enhancing overall educational standards, and therefore improving the economic future of the less advantaged amongst us.
See video

Panel titled "What is Development?" at the Institute for New Economic Thinking's "Changing of the Guard?" conference in Hong Kong. Featured panelists include Nobel laureates and INET Advisory Board members James J. Heckman and Sir James Alexander Mirrlees, and Nobel Laureate, INET Advisory Board Member, and Academic Council Chairman of the Fung Global Institute A. Michael Spence, with CIGI President Rohinton Medhora moderating.

See video

James Heckman, Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, University of Chicago speaking at the panel entitled "Inequality and the Challenge of Employment" at the Institute for New Economic Thinking's (INET) Paradigm Lost Conference in Berlin. April 14, 2012. #inetberlin

My Grants

The Institute for New Economic Thinking awarded a grant to the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO)—headed by James J. Heckman of the University of Chicago, Steven Durlauf of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Robert Dugger of ReadyNation—to initiate a program of human capital and economic opportunity research. HCEO is now a working group of over 400 researchers, educators, and policy makers.