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James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman headshot

Research Professor

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Joint appointment

Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Economics, University of Chicago


Ph.D., Economics, Princeton University


James J. Heckman has devoted his professional life to understanding the origins of major social and economic problems related to inequality, social mobility, discrimination, skill formation and regulation, and to devising and evaluating alternative strategies for addressing those problems. His work is rooted in economics, but he actively collaborates across disciplines to get to the heart of…

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Research focus

The economics of human development, building theoretical and empirical models of human capacity formation; the development of a body of new econometric tools that address this issue; the development of a scientific basis for economic policy evaluation. This work emphasizes the role of the family in producing capacities and the effects of capacities on education, wages, health, crime, and other dimensions of lifetime achievement.


Lessons for American Law & Public Policy from the Scandinavian Welfare State

Poverty, inequality, and social mobility occupy the attention of lawmakers and the public around the world. A variety of legislative and administrative proposals to address these issues are currently…

Analyzing the Influential Early Childhood Policies that are Proven to Promote Human Flourishing

A large and growing literature documents the effectiveness of early childhood interventions on a variety of outcomes, including crime, education, teenage pregnancy, earnings, health, and mental…

World Justice Project

The World Justice Project (WJP) is a multinational, multidisciplinary initiative to strengthen the rule of law worldwide. It is building a broad and diverse constituency that will advance the rule of…

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"Lessons from Denmark about Inequality and Social Mobility"
National Bureau of Economic Research
"Promoting Skills"
Archbridge Institute, Inquiry and Analysis Series
"Lifecycle Benefits of Early Childhood Programs: Evidence from an Influential Early Childhood Program"
Microeconomic Insights

All publications »


The Economics and the Econometrics of Human Development
Oct 2013
Causal Analysis After Haavelmo
Aug 2013
Creating and Measuring Capabilities (Child Development Leadership Training Workshop)
Jun 2013

All presentations »

Professional Service & Recognition

  • Senior Advisor to the China Development Research Foundation, 2012-
  • President, The Econometric Society, 2013 (Cycle: Second Vice-President, 2010-2011; First Vice-President, 2011-2012; President, 2013)
  • Member, Research Council, Becker-Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, 2011–2014
  • Associate Editor, IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 2012–
  • Honorary Academician of Academia Sinica, inducted 2010
  • Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children Award, Society for Research in Child Development, 2009
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2009–
  • Lifetime Member, Irish Economic Association, 2009–
  • Gold Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic, Pio Manzu Institute, 2008
  • Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Honor of the Memory of Alfred Nobel, 2000
  • Sun Yefang Economic Science Award, 2007
  • Dennis J. Aigner Award for Applied Econometrics, Journal of Econometrics, 2007
  • Theodore W. Schultz Award, American Agricultural Economics Association Foundation, January 2007
  • Ulysses Medal, University College Dublin, 2006
  • Dennis J. Aigner Award for Applied Econometrics, Journal of Econometrics, 2005
  • Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement, Society of Labor Economics, 2005
  • Medal, Center for Early Child Development for \Exceptional Contributions to Childhood Development", May 2004
  • Elevated to Distinguished Service Professorship, University of Chicago, 1995
  • A. Whitney Griswold Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1988-1990
  • Henry Schultz Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, 1985
  • Statistician of the Year, Chicago Chapter of the American Statistical Association, 2000
  • First Annual Louis T. Benezet Distinguished Alumnus Award, Colorado College, 1985
  • Irving Fisher Professor, Yale University, Fall 1984
  • John Bates Clark Medal (American Economics Association), 1983

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