An Introduction to Their Careers and Main Published Works
Chapter 32: THE 2000 NOBEL MEMORIAL LAUREATES JAMES HECKMAN AND DANIEL MCFADDEN
THE 2000 NOBEL MEMORIAL LAUREATES JAMES HECKMAN AND DANIEL MCFADDEN JAMES HECKMAN James J. Heckman (b. 1944) © The Nobel Foundation James Heckman was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA in 1944. He spent most of his childhood in Chicago but the family lived in Kentucky and Oklahoma for a few years before settling in Denver, Colorado, where Heckman went to high school. His time in the South, coupled with a later visit in the company of a Nigerian friend, exposed him to the last spasms of institutionalised racial discrimination practised there. This left a lasting impression and kindled a determination to do something to confront the implications of such social degeneration: ‘The separate water fountains, park benches, bathrooms and restaurants of the Jim Crow South startled me. These experiences motivated my lifelong study of the status of African Americans, and the sources of improvement in that status’ (Nobel Foundation, 2004). In high school, Heckman was taught by Frank Oppenheimer, whose brother Robert had been leader of the team that developed the ﬁrst atomic bomb. Frank Oppenheimer was also a physicist but, according to Heckman, he lost his university post because of his membership of the Communist Party. This happened in the early 1950s, a period associated with ‘McCarthyism’ in the United States, when many Americans suffered professionally because of alleged or sincerely held political beliefs. Eventually Oppenheimer 280 JAMES HECKMAN returned to teaching and Heckman won a place in his class. This was an important stage in Heckman’s intellectual development. He...
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