James J. Heckman is the Henry Shultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Public Policy and Director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago. Heckman has a B.A. (1965) in Mathematics from Colorado College and an M.A. (1968) and Ph.D. (1971) in Economics from Princeton University. He has been at the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago since 1973. He was one of the founders of the Harris School of Public Policy, where he also has an appointment. Since 1991, he has been a research fellow at the American Bar Foundation. In 2010, he cofounded the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group, a global network of over 400 scholars working on aspects of measuring and addressing problems of inequality and economic opportunity. In May, 2014, he launched the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago.

He has devoted his professional life to understanding the origins of major social and economic questions related to inequality, social mobility, discrimination, the formation of skills and regulation in labor markets, and to devising and applying economically interpretable empirical strategies for understanding and addressing these questions. While his research is rooted in economics, he also actively collaborates across disciplines to examine all aspects of major problems. His recent interdisciplinary research on human development and skill formation over the life cycle draws on economics, psychology, genetics, epidemiology, neuroscience, and law to examine the origins of inequality, the determinants of social mobility, and the links among stages of the life cycle, starting in the womb. This work has influenced both the scholarly literature and public policy.

In 2000, Heckman won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on the microeconometrics of diversity and heterogeneity and for establishing a sound causal basis for public policy evaluation. He has received numerous other awards for his work, including the John Bates Clark Medal of the American Economic Association in 1983, the Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005 from the Society of Labor Economics, 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, the Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children Award from the Society for Research in Child Development in 2009, and the Frisch Medal from the Econometric Society in 2014 for the most outstanding paper in applied economics published in Econometrica in the previous five years. He is a recent recipient of a NIH MERIT award.

Heckman is 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 American Association for the Advancement of Science; the Econometric Society; the Society of Labor Economics; the American Statistical Association; the International Statistical Institute; and the National Academy of Education. He has received numerous honorary degrees, and is a foreign member of several scholarly bodies.

James J. Heckman joined IZA as a Research Fellow in September 1999.

In 2000, he was co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for his development of theory and methods for analyzing selective samples [read more].



IZA Discussion Paper No. 11047

This paper analyzes the non-market benefits of education and ability. Using a dynamic model of educational choice we estimate returns to education that account for selection bias and sorting on gains. We investigate a range of non-market outcomes including incarceration, mental health, voter participation, trust, and participation in welfare. We...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10821
James J. Heckman, Rodrigo Pinto
revised version available as NBER Working Paper No. 23497

This paper presents a new monotonicity condition for unordered discrete choice models with multiple treatments. Unlike a less general version of monotonicity in binary and ordered choice models, monotonicity in unordered discrete choice models along with other standard assumptions does not necessarily identify causal effects defined by variation in instruments,...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10811

This paper quantifies the experimentally evaluated life-cycle benefits of a widely implemented early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. We join experimental data with non-experimental data using economic models to forecast its life-cycle benefits. Our baseline estimate of the internal rate of return (benefit/cost ratio) is 13.7% (7.3). We conduct extensive...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10758

This paper estimates gender differences in life-cycle impacts across multiple domains of an influential enriched early childhood program targeted toward disadvantaged children that was evaluated by the method of random assignment. We assess the impacts of the program on promoting or alleviating population differences in outcomes by gender. For many...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10742

We evaluate the Reggio Approach using non-experimental data on individuals from the cities of Reggio Emilia, Parma and Padova belonging to one of five age cohorts: ages 50, 40, 30, 18, and 6 as of 2012. The treated were exposed to municipally offered infant-toddler (ages 0–3) and preschool (ages 3–6)...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10456

This paper estimates the long-term benefits from an influential early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. The program was evaluated by random assignment and followed participants through their mid-30s. It has substantial beneficial impacts on health, children's future labor incomes, crime, education, and mothers' labor incomes, with greater monetized benefits for...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10356
published in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), 2016, 113 (47), 13354-13359

Intelligence quotient (IQ), grades, and scores on achievement tests are widely used as measures of cognition, yet the correlations among them are far from perfect. This paper uses a variety of data sets to show that personality and IQ predict grades and scores on achievement tests. Personality is relatively more...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10005

This paper discusses the relevance of recent research on the economics of human development to the work of the Human Development and Capability Association. The recent economics of human development brings insights about the dynamics of skill accumulation to an otherwise static literature on capabilities. Skills embodied in agents empower...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10000
forthcoming in the Scandinavian Journal of Economics

This paper examines the sources of differences in social mobility between the U.S. and Denmark. Measured by income mobility, Denmark is a more mobile society, but not when measured by educational mobility. There are pronounced nonlinearities in income and educational mobility in both countries. Greater Danish income mobility is largely...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9977
published in: Economic Journal, 2016, 126(596), F1-F27

This paper introduces the EJ Symposium on Child Development by reviewing the literature and placing the contributions of the papers in the Symposium in the context of a vibrant literature.