The Heckman Equation

Anyone looking for upstream solutions to the biggest problems facing America should look to Nobel Prize winning University of Chicago Economics Professor James Heckman's work to understand the great gains to be had by investing in the early and equal development of human potential.



Invest in educational and developmental resources for disadvantaged families to provide equal access to successful early human development.



Nurture early development of cognitive and social skills in children from birth to age five.  



Sustain early development with effective education through to adulthood.



Gain a more capable, productive and valuable workforce that pays dividends to America for generations to come.  



Our Funders

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


Watch the video to learn more about the economics of human potential.

Recent Activity
Latest from Professor Heckman
Vanderbilt Pre-K Study: You get what you pay for

Vanderbilt University’s study of Tennessee’s Voluntary Preschool Program evaluates a low quality early childhood program using a flawed methodology. Randomization was corrupted by noncompliance with the intended experimental protocol. The press release accompanying the report exaggerates the importance of the findings and the quality of the evidence.   


Many students assigned to treatment refused to cooperate and the  investigators were forced to use the very same non-experimental methods that they fault other studies for using. Their claim of program effect fadeout is a consequence of the control group catching up, not a decline in performance in the treated.


The real lesson from the program is that you get what you pay for, and Tennessee did not put much into its program. Low quality programs produce weak and even sometimes harmful results.


This study does not refute the strong evidence that high quality preschool programs—criticized by the authors as “too expensive”—more than pay for themselves in terms of ROI.