James J. Heckman

Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he has served since 1973. In 2000 he shared the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel with Daniel McFadden. Heckman directs the Economics Research Center and the Center for Social Program Evaluation at the Harris School for Public Policy, and is Professor of Law at the University of Chicago School of Law. In addition, he is the Professor of Science and Society in University College Dublin and a Senior Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. Heckman received his B.A. in mathematics from Colorado College in 1965 and his Ph.D in economics from Princeton University in 1971. His work has been devoted to the development of a scientific basis for economic policy evaluation, with special emphasis on models of individuals and disaggregated groups, and to the problems and possibilities created by heterogeneity, diversity, and unobserved counterfactual states. He developed a body of new econometric tools that addressed these issues. His research has given policymakers important new insights into areas such as education, job-training, the importance of accounting for general equilibrium in the analysis of labor markets, anti-discrimination law, and civil rights. He demonstrated a strong causal effect of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in promoting African-American economic progress. He has recently demonstrated that the high school dropout rate is increasing in the U.S. He has studied the economic benefits of sorting in the labor market, the ineffectiveness of active labor market programs, and the economic returns to education. 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 also studying the emergence of the underclass in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Heckman has published over 260 articles and several books. His most recent books include: Evaluating Human Capital Policy, and Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean (with C. Pages), Volume 6 (Parts A & B) of the Handbook of Econometrics (with E. Leamer), and Global Perspectives on the Rule of Law (with R. Nelson and L. Cabatingan). He is currently finishing a book on the problem of noncognitive skills in America.

Heckman has received numerous awards for his work, including the John Bates Clark Award of the American Economic Association in 1983, the 2005 and 2007 Dennis Aigner Award for Applied Econometrics from the Journal of Econometrics, the 2005 Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement in Labor Economics, the 2005 Ulysses Medal from the University College Dublin, 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 Manzu 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 currently Associate Editor of the Journal of Labor Economics and the Journal of Applied Econometrics. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA; a member of the American Philosophical Society; a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Econometric Society; the Society of Labor Economics; the American Statistical Association; and the International Statistical Institute.