James Joseph Heckman (born April 19, 1944) is an American economist and Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. James Heckman began his studies at Colorado College and received his Ph.D. degree from Princeton University in 1971. He then became an Assistant Professor at the University of Columbia and later moved to the University of Chicago, where he still teaches. He is currently also co-editor of the Journal of Political Economy. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society (of which he is also former president), the Society of Labor Economics, the American Statistical Association and the International Statistical Institute.
Professor Heckman is known for his contributions to the selection bias and self-selection that earned him the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2000. Since December 2018 he is recognized as the world’s most influential economist (RePEc). He is also well known for his empirical research in labour economics, particularly regarding the efficacy of early childhood education programmes.
One of his most recent research focuses on inequality, human development and lifecycle skill formation, with special emphasis on the economics of early childhood education. 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 United States and Western Europe.