James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He was a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 2000. He is the coauthor (with Alan B. Krueger) of Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies? (MIT Press).

  • Giving Kids a Fair Chance

    Giving Kids a Fair Chance

    James J. Heckman

    A top economist weighs in on one of the most urgent questions of our times: What is the source of inequality and what is the remedy?

    In Giving Kids a Fair Chance, Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman argues that the accident of birth is the greatest source of inequality in America today. Children born into disadvantage are, by the time they start kindergarten, already at risk of dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, crime, and a lifetime of low-wage work. This is bad for all those born into disadvantage and bad for American society.

    Current social and education policies directed toward children focus on improving cognition, yet success in life requires more than smarts. Heckman calls for a refocus of social policy toward early childhood interventions designed to enhance both cognitive abilities and such non-cognitive skills as confidence and perseverance. This new focus on preschool intervention would emphasize improving the early environments of disadvantaged children and increasing the quality of parenting while respecting the primacy of the family and America's cultural diversity.

    Heckman shows that acting early has much greater positive economic and social impact than later interventions—which range from reduced pupil-teacher ratios to adult literacy programs to expenditures on police—that draw the most attention in the public policy debate. At a time when state and local budgets for early interventions are being cut, Heckman issues an urgent call for action and offers some practical steps for how to design and pay for new programs.

    The debate that follows delves deeply into some of the most fraught questions of our time: the sources of inequality, the role of schools in solving social problems, and how to invest public resources most effectively. Mike Rose, Geoffrey Canada, Charles Murray, Carol Dweck, Annette Lareau, and other prominent experts participate.

    • Hardcover $16.95 £14.95
    • Paperback $15.95 £12.99
  • Inequality in America

    Inequality in America

    What Role for Human Capital Policies?

    James J. Heckman and Alan B. Krueger

    The surge of inequality in income and wealth in the United States over the past twenty-five years has reversed the steady progress toward greater equality that had been underway throughout most of the twentieth century. This economic development has defied historical patterns and surprised many economists, producing vigorous debate. Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies? examines the ways in which human capital policies can address this important problem. Taking it as a given that potentially low-income workers would benefit from more human capital in the form of market skills and education, James Heckman and Alan Krueger discuss which policies would be most effective in providing it: should we devote more resources to the entire public school system, or to specialized programs like Head Start? Would relaxing credit restraints encourage more students to attend college? Does vocational training actually work? What is the best balance of private and public sector programs?

    The book preserves the character of the symposium at which the papers were originally presented, recreating its atmosphere of lively debate. It begins with separate arguments by Krueger and Heckman (writing with Pedro Carneiro), which are followed by comments from other economists. Krueger and Heckman and Carneiro then offer separate responses to the comments and final rejoinders.

    • Hardcover $45.00 £34.95
    • Paperback $34.00 £27.00


  • Lives of the Laureates, Sixth Edition

    Lives of the Laureates, Sixth Edition

    Twenty-three Nobel Economists

    Roger W. Spencer and David A. Macpherson

    Autobiographical accounts by Nobel laureates reflect the richness and diversity of contemporary economic thought and offer insights into the creative process.

    Lives of the Laureates offers readers an informal history of modern economic thought as told through autobiographical essays by twenty-three Nobel Prize laureates in Economics. The essays not only provide unique insights into major economic ideas of our time but also shed light on the processes of intellectual discovery and creativity. The accounts are accessible and engaging, achieving clarity without sacrificing inherently difficult content.

    This sixth edition adds four recent Nobelists to its pages: Eric Maskin, who illustrates his explanation of mechanism design with an example involving a mother, a cake, and two children; Joseph Stiglitz, who recounts his field's ideological wars linked to policy disputes; Paul Krugman, who describes the insights he gained from studying the model of the Capitol Hill Babysitting Coop (and the recession it suffered when more people wanted to accumulate babysitting coupons than redeem them); and Peter Diamond, who maps his development from student to teacher to policy analyst.

    Lives of the Laureates grows out of a continuing lecture series at Trinity University in San Antonio, which invites Nobelists from American universities to describe their evolution as economists in personal as well as technical terms. These lectures demonstrate the richness and diversity of contemporary economic thought. The reader will find that paths cross in unexpected ways—that disparate thinkers were often influenced by the same teachers—and that luck as well as hard work plays a role in the process of scientific discovery.

    The Laureates Lawrence R. Klein • Kenneth J. Arrow • Paul A. Samuelson • Milton Friedman • George J. Stigler • James Tobin • Franco Modigliani • James M. Buchanan • Robert M. Solow • William F. Sharpe • Douglass C. North • Myron S. Scholes • Gary S. Becker • Robert E. Lucas, Jr. • James J. Heckman • Vernon L. Smith • Edward C. Prescott • Thomas C. Schelling • Edmund S. Phelps • Eric S. Maskin • Joseph E. Stiglitz • Paul Krugman • Peter A. Diamond

    • Hardcover $37.00 £29.00
  • Perspectives on the Performance of the Continental Economies

    Perspectives on the Performance of the Continental Economies

    Edmund S. Phelps and Hans-Werner Sinn

    Leading economists consider the apparent underperformance of the European economy, testing various explanations against data.

    Economists disagree on what ails the economies of continental western Europe, which are widely perceived to be underperforming in terms of productivity and other metrics. Is it some deficiency in their economic system—in economic institutions or cultural attitudes? Is it some effect of their welfare systems of social insurance and assistance? Or are these systems healthy enough but weighed down by adverse market conditions?

    In this volume, leading economists test the various explanations for Europe's economic underperformance against real-world data. The chapters, written from widely varying perspectives, demonstrate the shortcomings and strengths of some methods of economics as much as they do the shortcomings and strengths of some economies of western continental Europe. Some contributors address only income per head or per worker; others look at efficiency and distortions of national choices such as that between labor and leisure; still others look at job satisfaction, fulfillment, and rates of indigenous innovation. Many offer policy recommendations, which range from developing institutions that promote entrepreneurship to using early education to increase human capital.

    • Hardcover $9.75 £7.99