About Professor Heckman

HeckmanJames J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics and an expert in the economics of human development. Through the university's Center for the Economics of Human Development, he has conducted groundbreaking work with a consortium of economists, developmental psychologists, sociologists, statisticians and neuroscientists showing that quality early childhood development heavily influences health, economic and social outcomes for individuals and society at large. Heckman has shown that there are great economic gains to be had by investing in early childhood development.

Heckman received his B.A. in mathematics from Colorado College in 1965 and his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 1971. Since 1973, he has served as a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Economics Research Center, the Center for the Economics of Human Development, and the Center for Social Program Evaluation at the Harris School of Public Policy. He is a professor of law at the University of Chicago School of Law, senior research fellow at the American Bar Foundation, and research fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Professor Heckman's 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. In the early 1990s, his pioneering research on the outcomes of people who obtain the GED certificate received national attention. His findings, which found great deficiencies in the alleged value of the degree, spurred debates across the country on the merits of obtaining the certificate.
His recent research focuses on human development and lifecycle skill formation, with a special emphasis on the economics of early childhood development. His research has given policymakers important new insights into such areas as education, job-training programs, minimum-wage legislation, anti-discrimination law, social supports and civil rights.
He is currently editor of the Journal of Labor Economics. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Econometric Society, the Society of Labor Economics and the American Statistical Association, and a fellow of the American Academy of Art and Sciences.



Professor Heckman has published over 300 articles and several books. His most recent books include the following:

Giving Kids a Fair Chance: A Strategy that Works

Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policy?

(with Alan Krueger) 

Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean


(with Carmen Pages)


The Myth of Achievement Tests: The GED and the Role of Character in American Life

(with John Eric Humphries and Tim Kautz)


Our Funders

The Heckman Equation project is made possible with support from the Pritzker Children's Initiative.


Heckman has received numerous awards for his work, including the following:




Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (with Daniel McFadden)


2007 & 2005

Dennis Aigner Award for Applied Econometrics from the Journal of Econometrics



Theodore W. Schultz Award from the American Agricultural Economics Association



Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement in Labor Economics Ulysses Medal from the University College Dublin



John Bates Clark Award of the American Economic Association


Recent Activity
Latest from Professor Heckman

On March 23, Professor Heckman gave the keynote address at the Early Learning Water Cooler Conference in Sacramento. He spoke about refocusing public policy on cost-efficient, evidence-based investments in young children and families to reap sizable social and economic benefits, promote growth and opportunity, reduce inequality and disadvantage, and boost global competitiveness. You can view the slides from his presentation here.