Jacob Mincer: A Founding Father of Modern Labor Economics

Jacob Mincer: A Founding Father of Modern Labor Economics

Jacob Mincer: A Founding Father of Modern Labor Economics

Jacob Mincer: A Founding Father of Modern Labor Economics

Synopsis

The first in a series of books published with the IZA, this book presents and analyzes the work of one of the most important economists of the 20th century - Jacob Mincer. Mincer's work has had a lasting influence on contemporary labor economics in both theoretical and methodological terms. Mincer played a central role in shaping contemporary labor economics, not the least by largely determining its research agenda. His work in the 1960s and 70s on the determinants of individual earnings, notably human capital, and on labor force supply, particularly female participation, have had an enormous impact on the way others have approached labor economics. This book presents a systematic analysis of his extensive published work, emphasising its continuity as a lifetime research program that has made a lasting influence on modern labor economics.

Excerpt

This book originated through a kind offer by IZA to write a book that could provide a general and comprehensive overview of the richness and complexity of Jacob Mincer’s lifetime contribution to economic analysis. IZA’s generous invitation provided me with a unique opportunity to pursue my long-time interest in Mincer’s work. Back in 1997, I became interested in studying the historical roots and development of human capital research (Teixeira 2000) and started to explore the fascinating work of Jacob Mincer. My interest in studying the development of the human capital research program became the central theme of my doctoral dissertation (Teixeira 2003), which I finished in June 2003 at the University of Exeter, under the supervision of Mark Blaug and John Maloney. During my doctoral research I decided that it would be a good idea to talk to some of the leading academics who had launched that research program. When I first contacted Jacob Mincer, he kindly provided me with valuable answers concerning his work and his role in the development of human capital theory. During those interviews I became aware of the conference that was being prepared by several former students and colleagues in honor of Jacob Mincer on the occasion of his 80th birthday and was extremely fortunate to attend the conference and to meet and interview the late Jacob Mincer (for the final result of that interview see Teixeira 2006).

I am sure that this book is an unfinished project that I could still improve in many ways. I would have continued it for many years had it not been for the sake of a deadline (I guess this is the purpose of deadlines). I am sure that I will continue to delve into Mincer’s intellectual achievements, and I hope that this book will stimulate others to do the same.

In the preparation of this book I benefited from the help and generosity of many people without whom its successful conclusion would not have been possible.

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