University of Chicago Professor Adds Name to Nobel Laureates

By Comerford, Mike | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 12, 2000 | Go to article overview

University of Chicago Professor Adds Name to Nobel Laureates


Comerford, Mike, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


University of Chicago economics professor James Heckman on Wednesday became the university's eighth winner of the Nobel Prize in economics since 1990 on the strength of his statistical feats, including the landmark "Heckman's correction" - which statistically corrects for unknowns in the way people behave.

Casting a statistical light on how people make decisions on where to live, and how much to work and play, Heckman and University of California-Berkeley's Daniel McFadden are sharing this year's top international economics purse of $915,000.

Their work, "is the basis for the way people analyze anything that affects choice," said Richard Layard, professor of economics at the London School of Economics. "It helps us work out whether you do something or not, from whether you get married to whether you smoke."

Gary Becker, a 1992 Nobel Prize in economics winner from the University of Chicago, said Wednesday that the choice of Heckman shows that the South Side university is the dominant economics department in the world.

"If it makes people read my work more, then that's fine," said Heckman, 56, who was on a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday.

DePaul University's Professor of Economics William Sander said he still is using the "Heckman Correction" methodology which was first developed in 1979.

"It allows you to take into consideration unobserved aspects of behavior," Sander said.

Heckman first used his theory to explain how married women decide when to work and how much. But he has since developed other statistical ways of explaining how the work force trains and how effectively. One study found early childhood education is a better predictor of workplace effectiveness than adult training.

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