James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago. His recent research deals with such issues as evaluation of social programs, econometric models of discrete choice and longitudinal data, the economics of the labor market, and alternative models of the distribution of income. Professor Heckman has received numerous awards for his work, including the John Bates Clark Award of the American Economic Association in 1983, the 2000 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (with Daniel McFadden), the 2005 Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement in Labor Economics, the 2005 University College Dublin Ulysses Medal, and the 2005 Aigner award from the Journal of Econometrics.

Papers Published in World Economics:

Economic, Neurobiological and Behavioral Perspectives on Building America’s Future Workforce

A growing proportion of the US workforce will have been raised in disadvantaged environments that are associated with relatively high proportions of individuals with diminished cognitive and social skills. A cross-disciplinary examination of research in economics, developmental psychology, and neurobiology reveals a striking convergence on a set of common principles that account for the potent effects of early environment on the capacity for human skill development. Central to these principles are the findings that early experiences have a uniquely powerful influence on the development of cognitive and social skills, as well as on brain architecture and neurochemistry; that both skill development and brain maturation are hierarchical processes in which higher level functions depend on, and build on, lower level functions; and that the capacity for change in the foundations of human skill development and neural circuitry is highest earlier in life and decreases over time. These findings lead to the conclusion that the most efficient strategy for strengthening the future workforce, both economically and neurobiologically, and for improving its quality of life is to invest in the environments of disadvantaged children during the early childhood years.

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